The Dyadic Planetside Trip: Our House and Tank Work
Toni and I have been together for five years. What is it that generates the bonds in this particular dyad?
Part of the bonding process between us is humor and states of high energy. John's self-analysis turned up an interesting split in himself. He found that a certain aspect of himself, his fun-loving, romantic "small boy-self," tended to remain hidden behind his more educated, austere, disciplined "official" self. Toni has many times caught this hidden "boy" peeking out from behind the facade of the grown man. She encourages him to "come out and play" with her "little girl" self. In this dyad the "boy" is called "Jack" (a name that was used for eight-year-old John by his drum teacher); Toni's (Antonietta's) small "girl" is called "Ann."
John places in Jack all of the characteristics of himself and those hidden belief systems that are not officially useful in the consensus reality operation, such as: certain kinds of joking, certain ideas (reincarnation, past lives, science-fiction scripts), and certain states of being ("the happy idiot," "the aroused male animal," "the angry husband," "the holy man," etcetera).
These fictitious alternate personalities have their uses in our dyad: any time we do something, say something, feel something, that is somewhat out of context-inappropriate-humorous, we conjure up "Jack" and/or "Ann." (Jack and Ann have their own communication-spoken through body language as well as verbal, vocal language, sometimes humorous, sometimes highly emoting.) ÷
As John wrote in The Center of the Cyclone, when Toni and he met he said to her, "Where have you been for the last five hundred years?" She answered, "In training." Now let us ask Jack (with all of his "omniscience") what this means:
"Okay, John and Toni, here's what I feel to be true and I am choosing my language very carefully to give a certain amount of credibility to both of you. You were together in a previous life or lives, five hundred or more years ago. You missed getting together for the last five hundred years (until February 1971) and obviously you are together once again as you have demonstrated over the last five years. The last time you were together, John was insisting on being an explorer and Toni wanted him to stay at home. As you remember, five hundred years ago from your 1971 meeting, it was the year 1471. In that year, Leonardo da Vinci, for example, was nineteen years old (his birthdate is estimated to have been 1452). The Medici were coming to power in Florence. Shakespeare wasn't due for another hundred and some years. I cite these historical matters to place the time at which we apparently previously existed together.
"John has a prejudice in regard to all of this. He hardly believes in reincarnation as such; he has a very definite policy not to go into past lives. He wants to be much more involved in future possibilities of humankind rather than in reminiscing over a past that cannot be changed." (Jack is more relaxed about such matters and at every opportunity brings up the matter of reincarnation and previous lives. Apparently it was he who took over and said to Toni "Where have you been for the last five hundred years?")
"Currently John is running the show and would prefer to talk about the current life of John and Toni—what that's like—and somewhat of what they plan for the future."
John answers, "Of course the planetside trip has a past, but if one gets too involved in the past, one becomes unable to deal either with the present or with the future, and the more time one spends on the past, the less there remains for the present and the future." (A scientist commits himself to the future. He uses past knowledge to a certain extent, but he develops the future knowledge.)
About a year and nine months ago, John and Toni moved from Toni's house in Los Angeles near the west end of Los Angeles County to a house in Malibu at an altitude of about 1,300 feet above sea level and two and a half miles from the sea. From this house one can see a small segment of the sea, down through the canyon. The climate here reminds one of Arizona, so we call it "Arizona by the sea." As is typical of southern California, there are hibiscus and other flowering trees around the property. Currently I see red and yellow flowers on the trees. I see a bird-of-paradise plant in flower. I see some trees that have lost their leaves for the winter, this being February. I see one evergreen tree that died last winter because it is in a bad spot where it doesn't get much moisture. The grounds are quite hilly. There is an acre that is available for a very large garden if we wish. Toni put in twenty avocado trees last year. We hope to obtain avocados from them within the next three years. We own a total of two and a half acres and have modified the house and the grounds somewhat for our own purposes. We installed a water tank above the house on the side of the hill to give us better water pressure in the house. We put in a swimming pool, which can be heated and has some Jacuzzi jets in it, as well as air jets in the bottom. There are some beautiful incense cedars in which there resides a tribe of quail. They come back every night to roost in these trees.
The house itself is about fifty feet by seventy feet in total area, including the porches. There is a very large back porch and a small front porch. There are five bedrooms, some of which we converted to offices, and two bathrooms, and a kitchen immediately adjacent to and looking out through a rather large living room. We have installed a quadrasonic hi-fi system.
We had tile put down on the two porches and through the kitchen and one portion of the living room with carpet laid on the rest. Toni had new drapes hung and redid the walls with a special kind of wood with the grain going at a forty-five-degree angle to the horizontal.
It is John's impression and those of most of our guests that it is a very warm and delightful atmosphere in which to work and live. Adjacent to the house, but not attached to it, is a separate small building, which was formerly a laundry and currently has been given over to the isolation tank work. In this building we placed two isolation tanks: a large, white fiberglass one, sentimentally dubbed "the white whale," the other a wooden model with a vinyl liner. This building enabled us to carry the isolation tank development further than it has been done before.
There is sufficient land so that we can build another small house or work space, which we need.
In the twenty-one months that we have lived here, some fifty miles from the center of Los Angeles and in a rather remote mountain district, I have been amazed at the number of people who find us and who enjoy our company.
Originally we bought the house in order to hold workshops, which we did for the first year. We held workshops here, at Esalen and at various other growth centers around the United States.
The first workshops we gave were for anyone who applied. This led to some rather humorous situations in which people would arrive not knowing who we were or what sort of workshops we were presenting. For example, one couple arrived all decked out as if they were newly initiated into encounter groups and similar kinds of workshops. They were dressed in brand-new clothes, which looked as if they were copies of the "as if young" uniform (blue jeans and special hats). This couple showed very low tolerance for various kinds of exercises that we put people through in our workshops. For example, we exposed them to the repeating word "cogitate," to very loud noises of various sorts, in order to train them to unexpected programs and to reprogram their own dislike into curiosity for whatever it is that is going on. The man in this couple found it impossible to tolerate the levels of either sound or the patterning of the sound that was being presented to the group.
It was because of experiences like these that we finally decided to limit our workshops to either people who had previously been in workshops with us at Esalen or other growth centers, and to M.D/s, Ph.D/s and similarly educated individuals. Somehow or other we no longer enjoy teaching the elements to “beginners" in this area, so much as we did several years ago.
In all of our workshops we present the results of work in the tank and use the tank in the workshop itself. At one point we gave a workshop at Esalen and through the cooperation of Glen Perry, we were able to use two tanks during the whole workshop for a full week.
During the time that we have had the tanks available at our house, we have accumulated a very large catalog of tank experience. We ask each person who uses the tank for an hour or more, to write up their experience immediately after it happens. We now have something on the order of two hundred such write-ups, which will be incorporated in our upcoming handbook on the use of the tank (The Deep Self). Contrary to the written materials on so-called “sensory deprivation," which were not done in the tank, we have had very few negative experiences.
In Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer (Preface to the First Edition), I stated my position very succinctly and “densely" (meaning condensedly) to use Toni's term, in regard to the tank work.
.... The interest of the author is more in the thinking machine itself, unencumbered. During those times when it is unencumbered by the necessities of interlock with other [bio-] computers and/or with an external reality, its noninterlock structure can be studied. A given mind seen in pure culture by itself in profound physical isolation and in solitude is the raw material for our investigation . . .
Thus our major interests are in those metatheoretical positions which remain as open as possible to reasonable explanation and reasonable models of the thinking processes, of the origins of beliefs, of the origins of self, the organization of self with respect to the rest of the mind, and the kinds of permissible transformations of self which are reversible, flexible, and introduce new and more effective ways of thinking.
In other words, we are interested in establishing a basic situation by means of the tank and by means of our own programming of others in which the individual is free in the tank to do his own thing. Often times we are approached by people who wish to use the tank asking "What should I think about, or what should I do in the tank?" My immediate answer in these cases is "My preprogram for you is for you not to ask me to preprogram you."
Some people arrive at our house expecting us to give them a preprogram. Others arrive at the house with their own expectations of what is going to happen in the tank. An amusing anecdote occurred recently when a particularly busy and highly energetic man (D. E.) arrived, didn't have much time to spend, and wanted to spend it all in the tank. So he hurried through his shower and climbed into the tank, spent an hour, came out and hurried through his second shower to clean off the Epsom salts residue. As he was going out the door, I said, "Do you have anything to report about what happened in the tank?" Very quickly, as he was exiting, he said "nothing happened."
We have seen several cases like this, a few of which we were able to question. In general it seems that these people arrive with certain expectations: they are going to accomplish certain things in the tank; there are going to be far-out trips; they are going to hallucinate; they are going to have new and unique experiences.
Some arrive already preprogrammed by what I have written about regarding my own experiences in the tank, recounted in The Center of the Cyclone and in The Human Biocomputer. When they say "nothing happened" it means that they did not live up to their own expectations of what could happen.
In general we encourage people not to expect much on their first tank experience. It is rare that they can accomplish in an initial session what they eventually will accomplish.
For instance, Richard P. Feynman, 1965 Nobel Prree laureate for his research in quantum electrodynamics, exposed himself to thirty-three hours of total tank work over a period of twelve weeks. Only after five hours of work was he able to do the things he wanted, such as moving his conscious center out of his body while in the tank.
In our forthcoming book, The Deep Self, some two hundred separate accounts of experiences in the tanks will be given.
Toni had one experience in the tank that she recounts in the next chapter as an illustration of what can happen in an unexpected way after one has been exposed to many hours of tank work.