Note: This is a very esoteric article on a mystical aspect of being which I wrote a few years ago. Students of the mystical and esoteric arts may find it interesting, others not so much.
Many years ago, the American Zen master Richard Rose coined the term between-ness to explain a state of the mind which was conducive to creating magic. I do not mean the stage type of magic but the more esoteric and mystical kind. The kind we usually associate with psychic phenomena or miracles or creating rain when there should be no rain. The phenomena produced from betweenness can truly be miraculous in nature.
I am enamored with the term betweenness because it really does capture the essence of manifestation and magic. As we shall soon see, betweenness is a state of mind which can be learned. Though it should be said, it requires a great deal of skill and even more persistence to learn. My interest in the topic stems from a resonance with Richard Rose – some of his life experiences reminded me of my own journey to a degree. From this resonance, an interest developed in some of the concepts he proposed. Among these was the concept of betweenness.
While this article is primarily focused on how to develop between-ness I also want to provide some of the back story which prompted this article. It was and still is an interesting set of experiences which continues to develop right up to this present moment. Consequently, this article is not an end all and be all on betweenness, rather it reflects where my personal stance on the topic.
The resonance with Rose was not as straightforward in my mind as it first seemed. There was some dissonance with Rose on the topic of between-ness. The dissonance stemmed from my impression of Richard Rose having control over the phenomena of betweenness. In my subjective experience, I did not seem to have control over it; rather it just seemed to happen. For me it was more like a noticing rather than an activation of some process.
What was drawing me to betweenness and Rose was the anecdote when Rose seemingly made it rain during a talk he was giving on spiritual enlightenment. That is the one I felt the deepest connection too, more so than the other instances of between-ness. The reason for the connection was that in the past I too seemed to have made it rain. I say seemed because in effect I didn’t cause anything. There wasn’t a causative mechanism that I could put a finger on. The best I can describe it as what just happened, or who did what?
When it Rains, it Does Not Pour
To give an example consider the following. On one very hot day, yes, I am going to talk about the weather, I was looking at my dried-out garden and how the lawn was on the verge of dying from lack of watering. At the time, the city of Melbourne had some heavy water restrictions in place because of an extended drought. Watering the garden was a big no.
A thought crossed my mind, “rain would be good right about now”. In the space of a few minutes, I had a distinct and momentary impression that something had fundamentally changed. The experience was a strong sense that something different was in the air. It was almost like being transferred to a parallel universe where everything was fundamentally the same yet something was essentially different.
But please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that there was some form of travel between universes. Nor am I implying that I had a sense that some crossing had occurred from one universe to another. Nothing like that… I am only trying to capture the essence of the subjective experience as it occurred. At the time, there was a very strong sense that something palpably different occurred. One of the features of this noticing was a subtle ethereal sense of the mystical being present. Hence, why I sometimes say there is magic in the air.
One important point to understand is that when there is a perception of something different occurring in phenomenological experience, there is a checking in process which occurs for me. Frequently, people use intuition as a vehicle to not stand on their own two feet. People might say they have an intuition but on closer inspection there is a theoretical framework or a practical reason lurking behind the phenomena. To consciously put that theoretical framework out into the open, exposes a person to the risk of being wrong. Initially this may sound trivial. However, what the person is protecting against is being ridiculed for their theory or set of beliefs. A real intuition cannot be a defense mechanism as the nature of intuition requires openness among other things.
What may be useful to understand is that the theory is just below the threshold of consciousness. It is in the unconscious and kept their through fear. The story of intuition which we tell ourselves and others is a cover up for the underlying fear and anxiety. However, if we take the time to more fully explore what has transpired we may become more conscious of the way we work. As such we start to gain a little skill in distinguishing between various phenomena. We are better able to discern when there is a defense mechanism or obstruction at play and when intuition is wielding its own form of intelligence.
Let’s return to the example of rain appearing. Within a few minutes of that initial noticing another perception and subsequent thought occurred. “It is going to rain” crossed consciousness. The day was intensely hot, not a single cloud in the sky anywhere. The sky was as blue as it can get. The weather reports (I checked later) had no prediction for any rain at all. Yet within a few minutes’ clouds started to appear on the horizon. A little later rain appeared in the form of a brief shower. Hardly a down pouring, but enough to capture my imagination and awe.
One of the central themes of the anecdote above is the lack of conscious control. Things just seemed to happen spontaneously. There are many occasions when similar things have occurred. The clear majority of these phenomena are small. They are nothing quite as miraculous as making it rain. The rain experience has repeated a few times. It is not a one-off event. When combined with things like spontaneous instant healing, incredible synchronicity, and pre-cognition it does make the world seem like a wondrous place. In my perception, it seems like we are barely scratching the surface of human potential.
The spontaneity and perception of lack of conscious control is something I enjoy. It is not something I particularly want to change or have control over. However, it is difficult to precisely explain to others how to manifest in such a manner. Consequently, I kept pondering on the procedure Rose was utilizing in the hopes that I could better convey how to employ between-ness. But in doing so, I was not looking at my own processes and experiences. On reflection, I guess I was hoping that what Rose stated on between-ness would help me better understand my own processes.
Who is in Control?
Many years ago, I wrote a self-published book called the Magic of Manifestation. In this book, I outlined how to manifest and in a rough sort of way, the book is correct. I took it off the market for two main reasons. I felt the way it was written was not emphasizing that ego must be kept out of the way and the unconscious processes were more central than the conscious processes. The other reason was I felt the book was not doing justice to the topic and could have gone into more detail with many aspects of manifestation. Between-ness being one of them.
As the years rolled on things have coalesced in such a manner that I think I can bring some clarity on the topic of between-ness. I was reading a book and in the book, there was mention of holding the period between wakefulness and sleep in your head. It was only a small section contained within a chapter, but it did catch my attention. Incidentally that period is called the hypnotic state and is well worth researching on its own merits. The small section contained within the book had nothing to do with between-ness as such, but it did make one very pertinent point. The point was that it was a very difficult thing to do and required a lot of skill. When I read that, I thought “really people cannot easily do this”? I should clarify that I was not being arrogant in my self-statement that people were not able to do this. It was more the case of being naïve but I can certainly appreciate why people might think it’s an arrogant statement. Later, I checked with a few friends and when they attempted to hold that period as I described it they found that they could not.
It was somewhat of a shock to me because I always assumed people could capture that state easily. That is another lesson – never assume. Once I recognized that then things fell into place. This is the way I think of it now.
Between-ness is a very specific state of mind but it will manifest slightly differently from one individual to the next. I think that is why Richard Rose was fond of saying you must intuit it.
Consider Joseph Sadony who is long forgotten in spiritual circles, but who was a master of manifestation. If we read about him then the loci of control is external and attributed to God. There is no sense that he had control over a process other than through prayer. He predicted things before they happened, but when asked how he could accurately predict in the manner he did, he always stated it is God’s work. The attribution was more akin to him being a vehicle in which God worked through. Joseph Sadony considered the personal mind to be more radio like in the way it works. To him it was a receiver of signals. Incidentally, this is something I agree with.
At the other end of the continuum, there is Richard Rose, who invokes an impression of being in control. He too attributed it to the workings of the Absolute, but there seems to be a disparity between Rose and Sadony in terms of degree of control. In one example, Rose after being sick and unable to work wandered down to the local tavern to get out of the house. He decided to play cards for nickels and dimes. As he played cards, he would ask the dealer to give him a certain card and the dealer inevitably would. He had the ability to know which cards were being dealt before they were. Rose did not set out to win, and even when he did win he would share the winnings with his mates.
When questioned about how he achieved these phenomena, he would say things like you must hold your head in a certain way. Even though ultimately, he attributed the occurrences to the Absolute/God, his way of explaining was to point within.
How manifestation appears in my subjective experience is like a distinct blurring of boundaries. The ability to discern whether “Eddie” has played a role in manifestation is slippery. Like Rose, I attribute it to the Absolute because ultimately there is only one thing in existence even though it is not a thing. There is a type of dalliance occurring where it’s impossible to discern the roles of the relationships involved.
Altered States of Being
At first appearance, all these experiences seem very distinct without many similarities. However, having once watched Richard Rose use between-ness on a video tape it was clear that he was invoking a trance phenomenon. From some of Sadony’s descriptions it seems to me he also was in some form of altered state of being.
The key I think is to access that specific state of being. Because this state of being has been ill-defined, it puts it beyond most people’s reach. There is considerable ambiguity surrounding between-ness. The ambiguity and lack of good data makes it difficult for a person to follow and integrate into their own lives.
The other factor involved is that these phenomena may occur rapidly in subjective experience. We should pay considerable attention to what is occurring within our inner worlds to catch the process. The processes involved are so fleeting and occur at an almost imperceptible level that they are often missed. A part of what people may need to do is to build up their skills in paying attention to what is occurring internally.
If we recall the anecdote about the rain, the visceral impression that something was uniquely different in my experience was so strong that it created a mystical sense of being in an alternate reality. On reflection, it was an altered state of being/consciousness which allowed between-ness to permeate experience.
That is my current theory and it is more than possible that I may be entirely mistaken. Nonetheless, I think it is good to outline the process as it occurs for me in the hopes that it may become something more tangible for people to get acquainted with.
Rather than thinking of this process as a recipe or technique, the better approach is to think of it as the ingredients. The ingredients then should be mixed and matched per the individual. There should be a considerable amount of intuition on the person’s behalf because of the very nature of between-ness. We must intuit how to connect things up, but at the least, the following could demonstrate what should be connected. This may help in some regards.
Some Rules to Apply to Between-ness
There seems to be some rules which apply to between-ness which are worth considering.
- Between-ness only manifests the abilities and talents which a person already has. For example, I have never been able to move objects with my mind. It is not something that this body/mind seems to be suited. On the other hand, I do seem to possess a good ability to connect and communicate with people. Between-ness seems to bring this to another level altogether. One of the points the book has been attempting to convey is to pay attention to under used talents. These are the things a person needs to focus on in regards to between-ness.
- In my experience, between-ness must be entirely consistent with serving rather than receiving. A person may well have an illness and they can heal themselves using between-ness. But the intention must not be a selfish one. The healing in some way must also be of service to others. It can be a simple thing such as being with your children in a happier state. A good way of thinking of intention in regards to between-ness is to relegate it towards the highest good.
- I cannot be strenuous or vehement enough that Ego must be kept out of the equation. If Ego is in the equation in some small way, it is almost certain that between-ness will go astray. Remember that Ego is fear based where fear will naturally kill of anything beneficial to us.
- There should be a strong building of trust between the unconscious and conscious and with some form of higher power. The higher power can be anything; your soul, higher self, universal consciousness etc. Anything that is considered sacred or holy in our experience is good.
Between-ness is not a Panacea
Richard Rose stated that between-ness could and should be used on the path. I agree wholeheartedly but would add a caution. Between-ness should not be viewed as a panacea for all of life’s ills. Additionally, it should not be a way of inducing enlightenment directly. It is a process that can hasten and shorten the work which needs to be done, but the work still needs to be done. And ultimately spiritual awakening is not up to us. Consequently, between-ness is not a recipe or technique which will bring on enlightenment.
How between-ness works in regards to the path is as follows. Let us assume that there is a major emotional or psychological block where we are stuck. We cannot use between-ness to remove the block instantly in most cases. The reason is it would be inconsistent with how our unconscious works. This is a huge topic and is beyond the scope of this essay. For now, think of the unconscious as a powerful force, which has considerable more power than the conscious mind. The way I explain things is that the unconscious linked to the realm of the sacred and the realm of the sacred to the Absolute. Yes, that’s not how things are in ultimate reality, but nevertheless it is a good framework for understanding life and specifically between-ness.
That said if there is enough of the blockage loosened then between-ness can seem miraculous. We can think of it in terms of the mind should be ripe to heal. Or we should be ripe to take the next step and between-ness is a type of mechanism which allows us to take the step. It does not take care of the whole journey, just some of the steps within the journey.
In this light then we can use between-ness to more fully understand the patterns which bind us and are destructive to us. We can also ask for some help about what are the most constructive ways to undo this pattern. We can facilitate growth of sub-personalities; use it to quieten the mind and so on. If we can use between-ness in this manner, it shortens many months and years of work.
To illustrate, I use between-ness to help with dream interpretation by holding that state between wakefulness and sleep. Instead of having to analyze a dream for hours or days or weeks, between-ness through a very rapid fire of intuitions allows me to interpret the dream in the space of a minute or two. But we should note and understand that it might take years to develop the initial skills to interpret the dream. Once those skills are in place between-ness seems to augment them into a higher mode of operating which may seem miraculous.
The miraculous aspect of between-ness is often a lure for a seeker where they invest in power and lose sight of the usefulness of between-ness on the path. It is more beneficial for a seeker to focus on understanding self and clearing stuck patterns than the manifestation of material goods. As noted previously it also seems to work best when there is an aspect of being serviceable to others.
Realistically most people will not be able to manifest very quickly at first, if at all. It may take weeks or months and even years for something to manifest. But with perseverance and by getting more acquainted with the process, the method should quicken as time proceeds.
The Hypnogogic State
The most demanding and difficult part of between-ness is getting into the right frame of mind. While I used the term trance earlier, it is a very subtle form of trance or altered state with which people may not be entirely familiar. It is not hypnosis nor is it meditation. It is a unique and peculiar state of being/consciousness.
Our first task then is to become familiar with this state and get to know it like the back of our hands. Though there is a level of skill building in terms of how to use this state, the state already exists within each of us. We overlook the state in a similar way that most people overlook the gap between thoughts. It is there, but it goes unnoticed.
Let us examine the state of between-ness in a bit more detail to more fully understand it. As I mentioned before there is a period between wakefulness and sleep known as the hypnogogic state. It is the moment where we have a degree of waking consciousness but are just about to drift off into sleep. Alternatively, it can also be the period when we first wake in the morning but there is enough sleep in the air where we can easily drift back into slumber.
If we look very carefully, we can see the very first wave of dreaming appearing in our consciousness. I use the term wave because that is what it will appear like. It’s not a metaphor but a literal description of what occurs in mind. It will seem like a wave in the form of an image or sound starts of in the distance of the mind and then comes closer to shore (conscious mind). There needs to be that level of awareness in something as slippery as is being described. We can train our minds to pay more attention and that is typically a worthwhile endeavor.
If there is a little measure of lucidity while this phenomenon unfolds, then the waves start to fill the mind with more images flooding into consciousness. We are dreaming and asleep but conscious of this. This state is known as lucid dreaming. While not directly related to between-ness its usefulness is in knowing how to discern this state from the hypnogogic state. The two are often confused even by some researchers.
Lucid dreaming is where we have waking consciousness whilst a dream occurs. If we become proficient in our lucid dreaming practices, then we can also control the content of the dream. Of benefit to our sojourn in the world of between-ness, lucid dreaming allows a familiarity with having consciousness while a dream phenomenon is occurring. It allows us to observe the dream as it takes place and see that there is a narrative of sorts occurring in the dream. Even if the dream story seems weird the distinguishing feature is that it is a story – even a disjointed story is still a story.
The hypnogogic state by contrast does not have a narrative. It is holding the first couple of disconnected waves of imagery in consciousness. But by consciousness it is not the same type of awareness which occurs in the lucid dream. We are not thinking. On the contrary our thinking is like the waves of imagery, slippery pieces of cognition that do not seem to be related.
The distinction between this state and the state of lucid dreaming is that in consciousness it will appear as waves of imagery. For example, if we are in this state, we can see a wave arise in the distance of the mind. It moves closer to frontal consciousness then dissipates. Another wave will form in the distance just after the previous wave disappears. This process has a very rhythmic feel to it.
It would be like going to the beach and wave watching. The difference is it arises in our minds. I tend to be visually orientated, but someone who is more auditory inclined may perceive the rhythm of the waves as sounds instead of images. What we try and stay with is the rhythm of what comes and goes in this state.
The Way of Holding our Heads
What we must hold in our heads is that exact period just as we are about to drift into sleep. The hypnogogic state is a state of between-ness simply because we are in between different states of consciousness. If we can witness the letting go of our day to day consciousness, key word here is witness or observe then we have a very curious mixture going on in our minds. We have this irrational imagery and symbolism going on. It has the feel of being very slippery and elusive. Diffuse ideas arise, fantasies begin to take shape. On the other side of the coin, we have the conscious mind attempting to grasp and make sense of what is occurring in our heads. That side has a logical feel and is closer to our day to day reality. However, if we pay attention the logic does not stick either. We also must be able to play and tease with what is going on in our heads. We coax the next wave by flirting with it. If we notice that the waves start to form a narrative, then we must coax ourselves back from the lucid dreaming state back to the hypnogogic state.
The third component is to observe the proceedings without judgement. Observation without judgement is a key component. Just to be clear, the observation needed is the silent witness phenomena. There just should be an awareness of what is transpiring – a kind of overarching viewpoint capable of witnesses the waves of consciousness and thoughts.
Holding our heads in this manner is the difficult part, but it can be done. It may take several months or even years to get a good feel for the hypnogogic state. As an aside this state is correlated with high degrees of creativity among other things. It is reported that people like Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Edgar Allan Poe, Beethoven, Salvador Deli and many others, drew inspiration and ideas from the twilight zone between sleep and wakefulness.
To continue with our sojourn into between-ness, there is one more important element to notice. Like our day to day thoughts, there will be gaps between waves of imagery or modes of perception and gaps between conscious thoughts.
The Gaps Between
One of the reasons we want to pay attention to that gap between things is that experiences arise from that gap. That nothingness is what allows things to be. It also has the benefit that if we can notice that gap it will reflect some quality of pure awareness. The reflection however is just that a reflection – a type of benign shadow. It should not be something we identify with, but should be something we notice more frequently.
To illustrate, if we notice the gap and hold it for some seconds in mind we may then have a feeling of being more peaceful, or quieter, or a sense of stillness. We might also have a sense of existence, presence, amness, aliveness, or contentment. At times one of these qualities takes precedence in consciousness. At other times, another may take precedence. Different people will also experience different qualities. Enjoy what occurs in experience but try not to become attached to it.
If we compare between-ness with other states of being there will be an almost imperceptible sense that this state is different to what we are accustomed too. If we have some experience of meditation or hypnosis or other states of being it will be easier to distinguish it once we have some contact with it. It may be a little disconcerting at first when we first recognize this state. The initial recognitions may pull the seeker back into waking consciousness. That is ok and to be expected. It is more a question of first viscerally contacting this state. Then we try and familiarize ourselves with it. That is the main aim initially.
As we become familiar with that state, we might notice times during the day when the state occurs naturally. We should be clear here. It will not be that imagery and waking consciousness occur in the same way as that period between sleep and wakefulness. What there will be is a very subtle and fragile sense that it is the same state of between-ness which we can then use for some beneficial purpose.
A way to think about it is that it is akin to daydreaming except we hold our heads at the point just before daydreaming. We try and catch that point just as we are about to enter the daydreaming state and then hold that state in our minds. We could also employ self-hypnosis or meditative techniques to catch the first glimpse of between-ness. What we need to be wary of, is not falling into a full hypnosis or meditation sequence. Rather, they are employed as mediums to trigger our minds into a state of between-ness.
One of the reasons we use the periods between wakefulness and sleep is that it is a natural occurrence of between-ness. It is why we often get profound insights or premonitions or experience deep connection just as we are about to sleep. There are many similar natural periods of between-ness during our waking consciousness. Just as we are about to enter a daydream would be one such example.
However, the period between wakefulness and sleep is a bit more distinct than what we are usually accustomed too. It also has the added advantage that we do not usually look there. Consequently, we become more prone to approaching it in an explorer like mode and with curiosity to match. Once we are familiar with the state we may want to explore how it could be used during our waking hours.
In psychology, there is a memory process called state dependent memory. If we hear a song from our past, often memories of that period soak into experience. That would be an example of state dependent memory. By using that period immediately prior to falling asleep, we are creating an unconscious association with the state. We can later utilize that association during our day to day experiences to recognize the state. Between-ness is a fleeting experiential state ordinarily. The fleetingness of it makes it difficult to connect with it. We counter that by paying attention.
Until that level of daytime mastery is achieved, we can use those night time and early morning periods to help our development along. All the above gives us a framework to access between-ness but it does not tell us what to do with between-ness.
Manifesting with Between-ness
The first thing we need to do is have a clear intent. People call it conscious intent, but it is closer to unconscious intent with a little light of consciousness. It is the unconscious where we can more readily contact the sequence of manifestation not the conscious.
It is no use trying to manifest something consciously if the unconscious does not believe it or is against it. We must clear and align the unconscious forces before anything else. The other important part about intent is that it is willingness as opposed to being willful. We cannot force it or coerce it. Rather it is more like a willingness to accept what is being offered.
Initially our intent must be very clear and worded in such a way that it has no negative connotations. I encourage short and concise statements with no hint of vagueness. However, be very clear, that intention is primarily a feeling state and not a cognitive state. It is a kind of bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind. What we are trying to do with our intentions is to set the tone and demeanor of our being.
Consider this example, let us say that you have this urge to throw a ball very hard at a wall. Our intention is the energetic state of our bodies which desires to hit the wall. If we tell ourselves we intend to hit the wall, it is meaningless without the accompanying feeling and physiology just prior to throwing the ball. Intention is also where purity of purpose should come in, but again better left for another essay and time. The only reasons why it might be useful to write down an intention is it can help bring some clarity and can also serve as a reminder for where we want to be. The wording is nowhere near as important as the energized state our bodies are in.
I also encourage that you visualize or create a symbol to represent that statement. The reason I encourage the former is that the unconscious utilizes a symbolic form of language rather than the way we speak on a day to day basis. It is also easier to handle and send into the unconsciousness when we are in between-ness. My suggestion is to pack your intention and desire into the symbol which can be used later in between-ness.
We also may want to begin with very small things. A hug from a niece or nephew is a good example, but if you’re working on yourself, you may want to ask for something to work on that you can handle but will be of benefit to you and others in the long run. Ask for a memory or symbol to work with. The reason we want to begin with smaller things is to build confidence in what we are attempting to do. The more confidence we have the better. If we look at the statement “it is going to rain”, it conveys confidence. It conveys that is the way it will be, but without any forcefulness. Rather it is just that we have so much confidence via learning to trust our visceral impressions that it seems rather obvious that is what will occur.
Also, bear in mind that initially not everything will manifest. As I said previously we should intuit our own way rather than following Eddie’s way or Richard Rose’s way. Eventually though it should become easier with persistence and refinement.
Once we have our intent clearly defined, the next step is trust. We should build trust that something greater than self is working with us. It is not simply a matter of saying I trust something greater than self. We should experientially know there are forces at work greater than our personal self.
With these two concepts in mind, let us return to that way of holding our heads. In that state, of between-ness, send the intention into the gap between thoughts and the imagery. By send, I do not mean forcefully send, rather just as you notice the gap you let go of the intent or conscious thought.
Immediately after sending the intent, bring some gratitude into the equation. It does not have to be prolonged just something heartfelt without breaking the state of between-ness. If you cannot manage gratitude in that state that is ok. Just bring yourself back to waking consciousness and be grateful from there but in a more prolonged fashion. Thank the unconscious and thank the universe or higher power or the Absolute.
It is not uncommon to wonder if what is being attempted to manifest comes back into mind in the coming weeks. Just use mindfulness to allow that thought to come and go. Do not get caught up in the energy of it or let it run away into a fantasy. A good dose of non-attachment and continually letting go of ego can work wonders in this regard.
These are the basic ingredients of between-ness and how it unfolds as I currently see them. The skill, the intuition and complexity involved is likely to put betweenness out of the reach of many people. Nevertheless, it is an interesting esoteric phenomena worthy of investigation and experimentation.