I hadn’t initially set out for Hell, I just happened to stumble in there on the way to somewhere else. Here’s the story of how it happened…
I was on a quest, searching for Truth with a capital T. I wanted to know the truth of good and evil, life and death, war and peace, and so on. It was in the winter of 1967 that I began staying awake for long periods. On one late night adventure I discovered a way to use my mind that enabled me to very quickly cut to the core of anything and everything I might find along the way to Truth. It’s called the dialectic, but I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew is that if I took any proposition and found its opposite, I could take both the proposition and its opposite together and find whatever it was that included them both. Thesis plus and antithesis equals synthesis, the combination of the two. Later I learned that light plus ‘shadow’ equals wholeness, but that’s another trip.
It was late one night that I had just finished reading One Two Three… Infinity, an entertaining and educational pop science book by George Gamow. I’d been awake for nine or ten days straight, exploring the world of dreaming while awake. So I was already in bit of an altered state when I got really stimulated about one of Gamow’s main points in the book—Einstein’s conception that the four dimensions of space-time are interchangeable. I had a nice satori behind this idea, and wanted to experience it firsthand. So I asked myself, what if I interchange two of the dimensions, making it so that the vertical dimension of space (up-down) was now the dimension of time?
I did this in my imagination, and a vision came quickly; I saw the past spiraling down beneath me and with a wispy sense of the future above. I remembered from an earlier realization that the future is not actually real because it can only be imagined. So then I realized that I was simply present, standing on the very top of the all that has ever happened, and looking down at it all. As I began to look around from this point of view, I wondered what the remaining three dimensions of space looked like now. The ensuing vision completely blew my mind.
Suddenly I was experiencing a vision something like Einstein’s, the universe of four interchangeable dimensions of space and time. What a spectacle! I was agog that I was somehow able to hold this all in my mind. And then it wasn’t long before I realized that my point of view was outside of the known universe. I must be somewhere else! I realized that to be seeing a complete universe of four dimensions, I must be standing in a fifth dimension!
After some time and still somewhat stunned, my Truth-searching habit of looking for the other half of the story kicked in. My skin began to crawl as I started to turn around, almost automatically, to see what was behind me, to see what the opposite of this four-dimensional universe might be.
I was standing up, and as I began to turn, the air around me seemed to get thicker, and to my complete astonishment, a burning cigarette popped out of the air about four feet in front of me and dropped to the floor! A few seconds later a second cigarette did the same. I quickly grabbed an ashtray and picked up the burning cigarettes only to see another lit cigarette pop out of the air and fall to the floor.
As I picked that one up, a fourth lit cigarette materialized and did the same. I was now gawking at four smoldering unfiltered cigarettes that had quite magically appeared out of nowhere. Although I’d had many bizarre experiences while staying awake for long periods of time, this was right up there in the top five of bizarre. I took a drag off of one of the cigarettes and coughed out acrid smoke. It tasted very, very stale, as if it was quite old.
It took a while to recover from the initial shock of all of this weirdness, put out the cigarettes and reestablished the vision I’d just had of the four-dimensional universe. As soon as I arrived back and reestablished myself, I continued turning 180 degrees so I could see whatever would be the opposite of this vision. I wanted to know what is both the universe—and its antithesis. This is when things started getting really weird.
I was now having two overlapping experiences. I was smelling something very strong and more acrid than the stale cigarette smoke; it reminded me of burning sulfur from my chemistry set as a kid. I then heard my inner voice exclaim, “Brimstone!” Oh my God, I thought ruefully, “This must be Hell!”
I was now shaking with terror all the way to my bones as the second experience unfolded. I saw that I was standing between what seemed to be two large wheels, one to my right and the other to my left. Then, still smelling the brimstone, I felt myself rising above the wheels as they gently laid down flat, as if I had entered yet another dimension. The ninth dimension? I wondered, while I grappled with the possible implications of the brimstone and this new view that was unfolding under me.
I caught my breath and as I stabilized myself mentally and emotionally, I seemed to be on a metal gangplank of some sort. There was a sense of being above an old boiler room or some other kind of large equipment with a control panel circa 1930’s accessible from the gangplank. As I looked beyond the archaic movie set-like imagery I saw just below me the tops of two nearly identical four dimensional universes, each with a slowly turning wheel in synch with the other, but turning in the opposite direction.
From peering further into each, I could see there were values like love, goodness, beauty, life, harmony, etc. arranged in pyramid-like structures within each of the wheels. Each value had its opposite next to it, and each pair of values came together below, yielding a synthesis above that included both thesis and antithesis. The movement of thesis combining with antithesis to yield synthesis was dynamic and ongoing.
What most astounded me about being in this place is that here I had the power to rearrange the way these absolute values were positioned in each of the two universes. I experimented and found this to be as easy as rearranging the four dimensions of space-time. Adjusting values in both universes brought me to the realization that they were more or less reflecting each other. The first was the outer universe of space, time, matter and energy; the other was the inner universe of my mind. However, at this moment I am in neither universe; I am outside of them both. It was now that I realize that I am nowhere at all.
Fortunately I had prepared myself for what was about to happen here in nowhere land. My next realization told me that it was not likely I was the only one to have discovered this place. It seemed there was no doubt that this place had a proprietor that was not me. Based on the acrid odor of ‘brimstone’ in the air and the incredible power available here, the owner-operator would of course have to be the devil.
Some time earlier, when I’d begun my quest for the deepest cosmic Truth, I realized that I might someday have this experience. I had developed the idea that I was working with the cosmic identity of myself as ‘the Christ.’ And of course with this identity, I expected the opposite of myself to be Lucifer or Satan—you know, the devil. I also realized that if I ever were to meet the devil, I would want to be sure to get on friendly terms with him.
I decided that if I ever actually met the devil and had the opportunity to make a deal, I would propose that we be partners and somehow work together instead of continuing to be at odds with each other. And this very opportunity was apparently presenting itself now.
I heard an expressive cough, like the sound of a man clearing his throat to get attention. I looked up from the wheels and pyramidal structures of values and saw there was someone else here. It seemed that he was approaching me from another gangplank that that joined with the one I was on.
Of course I assumed this was the devil, and said with some awkwardness, “Nice view you have here.” I was feeling a bit like a trespasser and a little chagrined to have been caught. His reply was something like, “Yeah it’s cool,” and he quickly asked something like, “What’s going on?”
Before I could answer, I had a flash of realization about the implications of there being two of us here in this place at the same time. I realized that the solution to the biggest dilemma I’d uncovered in my search for Truth was quite possibly standing here in front of me.
I must digress for a moment. About six months before this event I’d had another vision related to identifying myself as the Christ. I had realized that everything I perceived was the way it was because that was the way I perceived it. Things I had perceived differently before had magically changed when I now perceived them from another point of view. I saw how it was true that I create whatever reality I experience. And I realized that this is how it must be for everyone else. This felt good at first, before I realized the downside of all our self-created realities. If everything I perceive is only my creation, then I’m ultimately locked inside of my own universe. And so is everyone else—if of course anyone else actually exists.
I was then given a vision of a vast and deep space filled with zillions of bubbles, each self-contained bubble representing a complete universe. The vision depicted all Beings, each of us trapped inside of our own universe, with each universe being ultimately separate from all others. It unnerved me to the core; I cried in horror as I felt the ancient, cosmic loneliness of this truth—times a zillion. A deep, soft inner voice encouraged me, and I resolved to find a solution for this; I was even motivated to resolve this dilemma than to find out anything more about the Truth.
Meanwhile, the stinking smoke of brimstone was beginning to clear from the space between the devil and me. The psychic connection was clearing more as well, and with a slight nod to each other we acknowledged our strong telepathic link. I used the opportunity of our connection and the question he asked to share the vision I just described. Then I pointed to the fact that the two of us were not in any universe, we were effectively nowhere at all.
The way we were able to connect here seemed qualitatively different to me than any kind of connection I’d ever experienced with another; this was much more real. This place seemed to be the answer to my quest for an end to cosmic loneliness, and this Being standing across from me seemed to be my perfect counterpart. If the classic correspondences applied, in this case I was representing ‘good’ and he was representing ‘evil.’ I had already seen how neither of these was a whole, and yet combined they become an element of the Whole Truth.
I proposed a deal and he accepted. We agree to work together cooperatively to resolve the problems inherent in the vision I’d just shared with him. With an air of confidence that he knew how to do it, he agreed to take care of drumming up the resources we would need to spread the word. I agreed to continue with my quest for the Truth, and acting in the capacity of the Christ to perform whatever tasks would be necessary to save the world, or to at least redeem it and everyone in it. You know, the trip.
We solemnly and yet amicably agreed, and I was about to leave when I realized I didn’t know how to address him. I said, “Oh by the way, my name is John. What’s yours?” He replied, “Bob Dylan.” I was shocked, I was expecting something like ‘Lucifer’ or ‘Satan’ or maybe even ‘Beelzebub’ or ‘Mephistopheles.’ It didn’t seem at all that he was lying, and yet I just couldn’t make any sense of his answer. I stammered, “Huh? What?” And he replied coolly, “Listen to my record.”
With that final exchange ringing in my ears, I tumbled back into the three dimensional room where four lit cigarettes had recently popped out of thin air. I looked at my record player, and there on the turntable was side one of the newly released John Wesley Harding, by the artist known as Bob Dylan. In the ashtray next to it there were still four unfiltered cigarette butts, definitely not my brand. I turned on the record player and heard the words, “John Wesley Harding was a friend to the poor…” as the first song began playing.