Listening (and now for something completely different …)

by rthieme on February 2, 2018


(and now for something completely different …)


Richard Thieme

Information, we are told, is the difference that makes a difference. To be honest, I don’t know if that covers all aspects of what we mean by information but I do know that information – and communication – depend on there being a real signal in the noise. Defining it precisely is not the same as knowing how to hear it.

There is a lot of noise these days and signals are harder to resolve. People all around the world, some of them experts at obfuscation and disinformation, create noise disguised as signal and even if they did not, the overwhelming amount of real signal turns massive successive waves of too much information into noise as well.

Learning to discern the signal in the noise is an acquired skill, and distinguishing truth and truthiness and half-truths and lies from one another is not trivial. In the good old days, we used footnotes and documentation to establish credible points of reference. We used rotary telephones, too, however, and drove our own automobiles.

Not any more. Today we say everything and forward/post/repeat everything and document very little. And our brains can’t tell the difference without meaningful points of reference for sources.

But our brains can be enlisted as allies too in the search for truths. We can train ourselves in the skills we need to have a clue about the real … and beyond the noise of the political landscape, the really real. I mean, the really REAL real.

We can learn to listen, to hear the signal in the noise.

When someone who is blind learns braille, the brain develops greater connectivity for the fingertips, the sensitivity of which is critical to distinguishing words from bumps. We call that capacity plasticity, a flexibility that allows the brain to cooperate with executive decisions made by the pre-frontal cortex to learn new things. In other words, we can’t always make things happen but when we intend that they happen, the brain will do what it can to help. Consciousness is nine-tenths below the service of what we think but can be enlisted in its full strength by intentional decisions.

A stunning example of this ability is a blind professor at MIT who attended parties where numerous conversations were taking place and could distinguish and remember the content of them all. He also trained himself to play cassette tapes (remember those?) at six times normal speed and know what was being said, so a one hour lecture could be heard in ten minutes.

A playful example is when I play duplicate bridge. Between hands, we are not supposed to discuss the hand we played because the hints it gives to those who have not yet played that hand can be significant. When I closed my eyes and relaxed after a deal, I noticed at first the confusion of a number of conversations around me. But when I chose to attend to this one or that one, the rest became background noise. I could hop from one to the other as I chose. The conversations turned from noise to signal.

It happened when I intended that it happen and then practiced until it did.

When I first began to do meditation, I heard a lot of noise. The mind is like a chattering monkey, Buddhists say, and that’s what we hear. We hear the random patterns of what we call “ourself.” Over time, however, the volume diminishes and we discover ourselves “hearing” the noise not as “ourselves,” not as “our thinking,” but as background noise or white noise – forgive my imprecise metaphors, but they’re all I have – and we discern by contrast a more silent space in which the noise seems to be contained. At the edges of the noise is a non-linguistic luminosity that is also “us.” Seeing into that space is us seeing ourselves. It’s like looking at the backs of our heads with our own eyes. When we notice we are paying attention to noise and take back the reins of our attention, we detach from the noise and attend instead to that luminous cloud in which the chattering mind seems to be embedded or from which it appears to emerge. We see the noise from outside the noise.

Joe McMoneagle was one of the remote viewers used by the government. Remote viewing is the monitored use of structured protocols for gathering intelligence by clairvoyance. To learn to distinguish the signal from the noise, remote viewers practiced attending to mere wisps of information that the “right brain” picks up. They had to be careful not to let the “left brain” begin analysis prematurely while they gathered hints and intimations. Intense concentration and frequent feedback loops enabled them to visualize the material and frame it or image it or draw it as a gestalt. When predisposed genetically to get good at that – not everyone was – some got very good indeed, but it required a lot of time and feedback and practice. It did not always work, but when it did, the “hits” were striking. Describing the location of a jet that went down in a jungle or a new Soviet nuclear submarine before other sources of intelligence detected it were not trivial achievements.

This is what McMoneagle told me about that:

“I think if you go back to the beginning, one of the constants that has been changing very slowly but very dynamically over a long period of time is that we have been growing more and more layers to our craniums and becoming more and more sophisticated as sentient beings and our world has become more and more complex. I mean by that that it took us 30,000 years to discover fire but only a few years to learn how to build a pump laser. As we are becoming more and more sophisticated, our ability to conceptualize is becoming more and more complex. Given that that’s a possibility, I think what may be happening is that as sentient beings, we are immersed in what you might call a very broad spectrum noise band. Through the studies we’ve done on remote viewing, we’ve discovered that there’s a certain amount of noise emanating out of the core of the galaxy and that noise has an effect on our ability to be psychic or do remote viewing. When we’re immersed in that broadband noise, our ability to be psychic or be a remote viewer is reduced, not because it is blocking us, but because we’re having to deal with a whole lot more information being generated by that noise band. Studying it from a remote viewing standpoint is very interesting, but if you take remote viewing out of the equation and look at the fact that we have to operate while constantly immersed in that broadband noise, we can make certain assumptions. One is that maybe that noise isn’t nonsensical. Maybe it’s an information condition that is very broad spectrum from which – depending on the sophistication of complexity of the sentient being – you can extract information from that broadband information generation at a level equivalent to your capacity. So we believe that out of our wonderment and creativity we generate a pump laser when in fact the concepts for the reality of that may lie within the broadband noise and only when we reach a certain level of sophistication are we able to understand it and therefore build it.

This implies a very interesting proposition: it implies that all sentient beings are dealing with the same source of information. It implies that our more esoteric thoughts like thoughts of a creator or God may be very similar across sentient minds. It implies that our rate of growth might be accelerating and following a path that others have preceded us in.

RT: This is true to my experience. The Apostle Paul used the expression “upward call.” My experience is that in the presence of superior beings which is the true function of mentoring we experience an attraction toward possibilities latent in us which – if too far away, we don’t even try to realize and which if too easy, is not a real upward call – but if we are challenged just enough, like raising the bar just enough –

JM: Exactly.

RT: So we are challenged to reach toward something which without the presence of the mentor we would never have realized. Maybe the slab in 2001 was supposed to represent this. Are you following me?

JM: Absolutely.

RT: Once you accept non-local consciousness as the nature of consciousness and remote viewing as one manifestation of this being true, then this kind of mentoring would take place without regard to customary notions of space and time.

JM: Exactly.

RT: The universe is nothing but a structure of information and energy manifesting itself in what I think of metaphorically as “folds,” manifesting itself as various kinds of beings, species, material forms. Does that make sense?

JM: Absolutely. I have a great deal of agreement with that.

The full interview is available at and as an appendix in my novel FOAM. In FOAM there are three nested levels of consciousness interwoven among the narratives. The “lowest” is the human domain of understanding and communication. The next up is the aggregate of information and energy that turns “individuals” into “nodes in a network” of integrated consciousness, the way we can see cells not as independent entities but as components of a larger complex “body.” The top-most layer I call “the Skein,” the result of numerous civilizations of sentient intelligent creatures linking up and self-transcending their categories of self-understanding again and again. I treated that theme in my short story, “Species, Lost in Apple-eating Time” in Mind Games as well. Identities are shed like skins we have outgrown as we become something more than the previous identity could entertain or contain.

In FOAM, my anti-heroic alien came to earth to do improv with the funniest and sexiest species in the galaxy, i.e. us, and he struggles to listen to communications from the Skein that were clear when he was a conscious part of that entity before he was “downsized” into a human body with its little bone-plate skull-encased brain and its naive belief that “we” are separate entities instead of inextricably connected modules of energy and information. He hears the whispers of the Skein the way we humans mostly do, imperfectly and with great difficulty. He is limited by the primitive “lobes and folds” as Volume One of FOAM is titled that define the current limits of human mentation.

His struggles are the struggles humans face, with our little brains at their current stage of evolution, as we “listen” for those signals McMoneagle discusses. People report contents of channeling, automatic writing, prophetic utterances, etc. but in order not to deceive ourselves, not to project our mundane thoughts onto a higher plane nor be victims of egos that like to believe they are Supreme Beings, we need checks and balances, we need mutuality to counteract our egoistic tendency to go down the wrong paths of interpretation, we need feedback to correct our trajectories as we voyage in the sea of consciousness so we can learn to sail closer and closer to the wind. Mystics need communities to nuance and interpret what they they see or hear, lest they deceive themselves by believing only themselves. To discover who we are, who we are really, we need the wisdom of the ages that is transmitted from generation to generation, and we need wise mentors.

Prolonged practice in a community of mentors with frequent feedback is the way to go down, down, down to the real signals, or maybe it is up, up, up to the real signals. Language breaks and our metaphors dissolve when we try to define our experience. But when we speak from those experiences, from that deeper level at which they occur, our words inflect others toward that level too.

In the Skein – in a universe of unified sentient intelligence – “we” are both speaker and listener. “We” are always talking to … well, to “our Selves.”

Humans have this intrinsic capacity for self-transcendence. It is axiomatic to our human condition. It is axiomatic to all life in the universe. Our pathways are diverse but constrained by built-in limits. “You” – “me” – “us” – “we” are built to discover who we are as we learn how to listen to ourSelves.

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