Hypnotic Induction of the Void
Hypnotic Induction of the Void;
Cosmic Unity Experience
This script is a long voyage into co-consciousness which is a guided tour to the Void and the experiential fullness of Nature, as the Plenum. Tantric love-making automatically induces a condition of suspension of thoughts at the moment of climax — a momentary experience of what both Hinduism and Buddhism has termed the Void. But conditioning or training in hypnotic induction of the Void can lead to deepening this state and adding to spontaneity.
This script was developed by Bernard S. Aaronson, Ph.D. and presented at the American Society of of Clinical Hypnosis in 1969. It appeared in the Journal of the American Society for Psychosomatic Dentistry and Medicine in 1979 (Vol. 26, No.1). The void experience, the central experience of Eastern and Western mysticism, was analyzed as a state resulting from a separation of self from one’s senses, from one’s concept of self, and a loss of opposites and polarities. Suggestions are also given for ego-expansion, an experience of the Plenum.
In the quasi-anatomical mapping of consciousness characteristic of kundalini yoga, the seventh chakra, the center of consciousness located at the top of the head and associated with nirvana, contains the void as a central area. This experience of the void is the core experience of introvertive mysticism. It is an intensely positive experience without empirical content, except a consciousness of consciousness itself — the ground state of the nature mind, in Tibetan tantra. All mental and physical objects are obliterated from consciousness, the self becomes aware of itself as the bare unity of the manifold of consciousness. It has been called “the Supreme Good. It is One without a second. It is the Self.” Suzuki quotes the Great Prajnaparamita Sutra, saying,
“Thus, Sariputra, all things have the character of emptiness, they have no beginning, no end, they are faultless and not faultless, they are not perfect and not imperfect. Therefore I Saiputra, here in this emptiness there is no form, no perception, no name, no concepts, no knowledge. No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. No form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no objects…There is no knowledge, no ignorance, no destruction of ignorance. ..There is no decay nor death; there are no four truths, viz, there is no pain, no origin of pain, no stoppage of pain. There is no knowledge of Nirvana, no obtaining of it…When the impediment of consciousness are annihilated, then he becomes free of all fear, is beyond the reach of change, enjoying final Nirvana.”
The experience comes with the letting go of the concept of the self as a distinct and separate entity, and breaking down the separation imposed by concepts and logic, and a unifying vision. The conditions included are (1) meditation, (2) ego-loss, (3) loss of opposites, (4) meditation and ego-loss, (5) meditation and loss of opposites, (6) ego-loss and loss of opposites, and (7) the void.
Subjects reported (1) a sense of unity which becomes at its extreme pure awareness without empirical content; (2) transcendence of time and space; (3) deeply felt positive mood; (4) sense of sacredness; (5) a sense of intuitively gained insightful knowledge which is also authoritative; (6) paradoxical or logically contradictory experience; (7) ineffability or inability to express the experience in words; (8) transience of the experience; (9) persistent positive changes in attitude and behavior.
The alternative induction is the experience of cosmic unity, or the Plenum, a letting go into the flow of imagery. Subjects report feelings of joy, peace, spirituality, feeling in closer touch with the world afterward. The fact that spiritual experience can be produced in this fashion opens the possibility for study of the technology of mysticism and the development of an experimental and experiential psychology of spirituality.
The Induction of the Void
(In the following, the end of each paragraph should be followed by a brief pause. The terms, meditation, ego-loss, and loss of opposites are for identification only. Following the induction, a half-hour pause is permitted, after which you can return to normal awareness).
Don’t try to figure out what you’re listening to. Just listen.
Listen the way you would eat, the way you would taste something. Is the food too salty, or not salty enough, or just right? Is it too sweet, or not sweet enough, or just right? Just listen.
Don’t try to figure our what you’re listening to. Don’t even try to figure out what I’m saying to you–your brain will take care of that. Just listen.
Around you is a universe of sound. Just listen.
Sound is only the movement of air at your eardrums. Just listen.
After a while it may get hard to tell if you’re listening or you’re being listened, or who’s listening; to what, or what’s listening to whom–or who’s listening to whom and what’s listening to what. Just listen. Just listen.
(3 minute pause)
While you’re listening, notice the pressure of gravity on your body. Feel how it tugs at your feet and your legs and your wrists. Feel how the pressure of gravity pulls at your shoulders and your back and your neck and your head. Feel how it is on your arms and your hands.
Notice how the tug of gravity on one set of muscles reflects itself in the muscles that are associated and connected with that set.
Notice how you aren’t aware at all of this at the same time, but that sometimes you are aware of gravity in one part of your body, and sometimes in another, and then your awareness shifts to another part, or perhaps moves back to the first place again. So that it forms an endless cycle, endlessly moving, endlessly changing, always different, yet always recurring as your attention moves over your body.
After a while, it may get hard to tell whether you’re pushing down on the chair, or it’s pushing up at you.
Just feel the gravity. Just feel it.
(3 minute pause)
And while you’re listening, while you’re feeling the gravity, notice how your skin feels.
Areas of warmth, and of cold. Perhaps a slight breeze blowing across your skin. Feelings of touch. Maybe a momentary sense of pain. Perhaps some tickle. Maybe some sexual sensation.
This also forms an endless cycle, endlessly moving, endlessly changing, always recurring, but never the same.
And notice how your attention fluctuates over your whole body, so that sometimes you are aware of it in one part and sometimes in another. Don’t try to identify with these sensations. Just feel them.
After w while it may get hard to tell if you’re feeling them or they’re feeling you, or who’s feeling whom. Just feel the sensations. Just feel them.
(3 minute pause)
While you’re feeling the sensations in your skin, and while you’re listening and feeling gravity, notice your breathing.
Notice how some times you breathe deeply, and some times not so deeply. Sometimes you might even stop breathing for a few seconds, then your breathing starts again.
Your breathing, too, is an endless cycle, endlessly changing, endlessly recurring, always different, never the same, but always repeating itself. Don’t identify with your breathing. Just breathe.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Imagine that you’re inside a large gas bag. When you breathe in, you are filling the gas bag, when you breathe out, you are emptying it.
Don’t try to breathe out. Just breathe in and let the air come out by itself.
Imagine that at the back of your throat, there is a stopcock. When you breathe in, the stopcock opens wide. As you breathe out, it gradually closes, until when it’s completely closed, you breathe in again and the stopcock opens wide again.
Feel the air as it comes out through your mouth.
Put your lower lip up against your upper teeth, so you can see how the air feels slowing over your lip.
Notice how when the air is in the back of your throat, it seems to form the sound, “ah-h-h-h.” When it is in the middle of your mouth, it seems to form the sound “mmmm-m-m-m.” So that as you breathe out, the air seems to be going a-u-m…a-u-m…a-u-m…a-u-m…Notice how these sounds cover the whole of your mouth. Say “a-u-n” and hear it.
(chant “a-u-m” for two minutes)
After a while, it may be hard to tell if you’re breathing, or if you’re being breathed, or who’s breathing what, and what’s breathing whom. Don’t identify with your breathing. Just breathe. Just breathe.
(3 minute pause)
And while you’re breathing, and feeling the sensations in your skin, and listening, and feeling gravity, smell.
Notice how sometimes when the air goes through your nostrils you are aware of scents and odors, and at other times you aren’t aware of them. This, too, varies constantly and is constantly changing, constantly different, never the same. Don’t identify with the scents. Just smell.
Smell the smells that come to you from the world around you, whatever they may be or may not be. After a while it may be hard to tell whether you’re smelling, or you’re being smelled, or who’s smelling what and what’s smelling whom.
Don’t identify with the smells. Just smell. Just smell.
(3 minute pause)
While you’re smelling, listening, feeling, and breathing, notice the thoughts and images that go through your head. Notice how sometimes there is only one thought or only one image, sometimes there are many thoughts and many images, and sometimes are none at all.
These, too, form an endless cycle, endlessly changing, endlessly repeating itself, always different, never the same, yet always recurring. They come and they go, back and forth, in endless procession. One replaces the other, many replace one, one replaces many, or nothing may replace all, or many thoughts and many images may replace a period of nothingness. Don’t try to identify with the–let them float through like clouds, don’t try to identify them, just have them.
After a while, it may be hard to tell whether you’re thinking or you’re being taught, and who’s thinking what and what’s thinking whom and who’s thinking whom and what’s thinking what. Don’t identify with your thoughts. Just watch them. Just watch them.
(3 minute pause)
And while you’re thinking, and listening, and smelling, and breathing, and feeling, notice your emotions.
Feelings of joy and feelings of sorrow, feelings of anger and feelings of peace, feelings of tension and feelings of calm, feelings of fear and feelings of courage, and all of the thousands of feelings for which we have no names.
These, too, come and go. They come and they go in an endless cycle, endlessly moving, endlessly changing, always different, never the same, but always recurring.
Don’t try to identify them. Don’t identify with them. Just have them. After a while it may be hard to tell if you’re having them, or they’re having you–or who’s having what or what’s having whom, or what’s having what and who’s having whom.
Don’t try to identify your emotions. Don’t identify with your emotions. Just feel your emotions. Just have them. Just have them.
(3 minute pause)
While you’re feeling your emotions and watching your thoughts and listening and smelling and breathing and feeling, notice also your drives.
Feelings of hunger, feelings of thirst, sexual needs, perhaps a need to defecate, perhaps feelings of satiation, needs for air. These come and go just as your feelings do, just as your breathing does, just as everything does. Sometimes they’re strong and sometimes they’re weak. Sometimes they occur separately, sometimes together. Don’t try to identify them. Don’t identify with them. Just have them. Just have them.
(3 minute pause)
Now open your eyes and look. Look the way you listen, the way you feel or taste or smell or breathe. Just look.
What you are seeing is just the impact of light on the receptors of the retina. Just look.
After a while, it may be hard to tell whether you’re looking or you’re being looked, or who’s looking at whom, or what’s looking at what and what’s looking at whom. Don’t try to identify what you’re looking at. Don’t identify with what you’re looking at. Just look. Just look.
Maybe what you’re looking at isn’t real. Maybe you and what you’re looking at stand to one another as the walls of a cup and what’s real is the space between you. Don’t identify with it. Just look. Just look.
(3 minute pause)
And now pay attention to yourself.
Notice how sometimes you concentrate on your body, your physical self, and sometimes on your psychological or mental self, and sometimes on both.
Notice how you don’t pay attention to all of you at once, but that sometimes you focus on one part of you, and then on another part, and then on a third part or, perhaps you might move to the first part again.
This, too forms an endless cycle, endlessly changing, always different, never the same, but always recurring. Your experience of yourself, too, shifts as your attention shifts.
Notice that sometime you are supremely aware of yourself, and other time you are not aware you are deepening, you may not be aware of yourself at all. When you like yourself, you are aware of yourself positively, and when you don’t like yourself, you may be aware of yourself negatively, and there are all degrees of liking and disliking with which you may think about yourself or about different aspects of your self.
Sometimes in one situation, you’ll behave in one way, and sometimes in another situation, you’ll behave in another way. These are all part of the self which is always changing, and yet there is a part of the self that watches the self that changes that is ot involved in the change.
You give the self that changes your own name…but there is a self that goes beyond… that watches … which is greater than … which is beyond. For the I that perceives is different from the I it looks at. The self that perceives is different from the self it perceives. If the perceiving I contains the I that is perceived, it must be other than and greater than the I that is perceived.
So take off your mask! Take off your mask, the mask of your small self… find out who you really are.
Experience the self which perceives the lesser self, the I that perceives the lesser I. Know — who you really are. See — who you really are. Be — who you really are.
Take off the mask, the mask of (subject’s first and last name). Know who you really are. Take off your mask. Take off your mask.
[Loss of opposites]
You are male. You are female. You are both male and female. You are neither male nor female, but both male and female.
You are young. You are old. You are both young and old, but neither young nor old.
Located in time, but timeless. Bounded in space, but boundless.
You have a past and a present, but neither past nor present, but both past and present. You have a past and a future, but neither past nor future, but both past and future. You have a present and future, but neither present nor future, but both present and future.
You have a left and a right, but neither left nor right, but both left and right. You have a front and a back, but neither front nor back, but both front and back. You have a top and a bottom, but neither top nor bottom, but both top and bottom.
Wherever you look, universes appear. When you look away, they cease to be, and yet they never were.
In any face that you look are all faces — happy and sad, grotesque and beautiful, light and dark. In any face you can see your own face.
You are here, you are there. You are both here and there, but neither here nor there.
Around and through you everything is in motion, yet nothing moves. And still it moves.
For whatever is, is not, and whatever is not, is , and whatever is, is, and whatever is not, is not, at one and the same time.
Whatever is true is true, whatever is false is false. But whatever is true is false and whatever is false is true at one and the same time.
And you are separate from everything else in the universe and you are everything else in the universe. Whatever exists rests in you, whatever does not exist rests in you. You rest in everything that exists, you rest in everything that does not exist. For nothing exists that does not exist and nothing does not exist that exists.
There is no end to you and no beginning, although you have both an end and a beginning.
You are you and you are me and yet you are not you and you are not me. You are anyone else and not anyone else. You are all the objects around you, and you are not any of these objects. The world is your multiplicity, and the world is your unity. You are the multiplicity of the world. You are the unity of the world.
There is north and south, and east and west. Yet there is no north or south. There is no east or west.
All separations do ot exist, although everything is separate. All boundaries have vanished, but everything is bounded.
Know who you really are. Be who you really are. Become who you really are. But there is no being, there is no becoming, there is no knowing. You are the similarity of all opposites and the opposite of all similarities, the center of all boundaries and the boundary of the centers. Know who you are. Be who you are.
Now gradually let opposites and polarities reassert themselves. Let the distinctions between is and is not return. Let the distinctions between here and there return. Let the distinctions between boundedness and boundlessness return.
And now it’s time for you to return, time to put on your mask again, the mask of your usual identity, the mask of (your name here). But in putting on your mask, you don’t have to put on all of the games you played. Some of the games were games that hurt you. When you put on your mask, put on with it only the good games, the games that benefit you. Now that you know who you really are, you don’t have to play the games that hurt you.
So put on your mask again. Put on your usual identity. But remember who you really are and what you really are.
Now gradually let your usual relationship to your perceptions and your senses return as much as you want them to.
And now, whenever you’re ready, being already in the here and now, whenever you wish, whenever you’re ready.