Thank you for your letter. I will answer your questions by sending you this parable which I wrote in 1974, entitled The Train of Thought.
One day I awakened to find myself standing on the platform of a railway station. The platform was crowded with the entire human race and everyone but me (somehow I knew) was sleepwalking. I did not know what had awakened me, or what had led me there; I did know that I was awake and apparently could see the real meaning of that was happening around me.
In that most unusual state in which I found myself, I was able to see many strange and wonderful things that no one else could apparently see. Each person on the platform was enclosed in an aura resembling a soap bubble of many colors, and each color, I knew, represented their qualities and interests. There were no two exactly the same, but people did seem to gravitate into groups having similar colors.
The station building itself, where tickets were sold, was a beehive of activity. There were numerous signs advertising such different destinations as Self-Fulfillment, Peace, War, Religion, and so on; the possibilities seemed unlimited. In a few cases the price of the ticket was clearly marked, but in most it was not. No one seemed interested in what a trip would cost, as long as the ticket could be paid for later, or charged on a credit card. There was a sign saying that all sales were final; no refunds or exchanges were possible once the trip was taken.
There were many authorities present acting as guides, teachers, and advisors. They were clearly identified by their dress, and by the rather prominent badges that they wore. I could see that most of the prospective passengers were so carried away by the whole procedure that without someone’s help they would have indiscriminately climbed aboard the first car to appear. Others, of a more discriminating nature, eagerly sought advice from the authority that appealed to them the most.
Many authorities went out of their way to recruit gullible passengers, and in this way were able to build up quite a reputation. Word was passed from generation to generation through tradition, which was thought to be the best authority of all to follow.
I myself had always preferred to make my own choice, and therefore had never followed the advice of any of these well-known authorities. I found out later that it was my independent attitude that had led to my present state of wakefulness on the platform. I saw that accepting any authority was an absolute guarantee that one would never awaken, and without awakening, there was an endless trip through space and time.
The whole scene was intensely interesting to me as I watched what seemed to be happening. Some people got on board and were not seen again, while others would jump on, only to get off almost immediately. There seemed to be no rules of behavior, since some passengers kept changing cars and even seats for reasons known only to themselves.
The track leading in and out of the station was only visible for a short distance in either direction, for the train entered a tunnel immediately after leaving the boarding area. The arriving train (which I now saw was only a continuation of the same train) also emerged from a tunnel just before its arrival at the station. I was unable to determine the length of the train, but I could see that it was continuous. It was also unique in a most peculiar way – there were five distinct types of railway cars, each with its respective color, shape, size and different way of attracting my attention. For a time I was puzzled by this, but I finally saw a signboard with a description that enabled the passengers to make a choice. The first car was called The Car Of Sight, the second The Car of Sound, the third The Car Of Touch, the fourth The Car Of Taste, and the fifth The Car Of Smell. This information, of course, explained many things to me, and I again focused my attention on this fantastic train.
As I watched the people round me, I could see that they were caught up in a ceaseless round of activity. They behaved in much the same way that a person does when under hypnosis. Their attention was focussed entirely on the train, and they seemed to be unaware of anything else. A constant loading and unloading was going on, and for a time I was at a loss as to why a certain car was chosen. Finally I perceived that each person’s choice was motivated by a subtle blending of interests, familiarity, prejudice, fear, and desire. The blending of these qualities in a person was expressed by an overall tone or frequency, which in some corresponding way was linked to a tone or similar frequency that was emitted by each car as it passed by. The result apparently was like a post-hypnotic suggestion in its effect on the prospective passengers. As I watched people’s reactions, I was struck more and more by the dreamlike quality of the scene.
All of this time, I was in a state of wakefulness in which I could watch the proceedings with detached interest. But now I also wanted to experience this fascinating train ride that everyone else seemed to be enjoying so much. The instant my decision to participate was made, a subtle change in my own perception occurred. My attention was immediately drawn to what seemed to me to be the most beautiful car, which was just arriving. I barely had time to get on board, but found to my delight that it had unlimited seating capacity. Every seat individually molded itself to each passenger and automatically adjusted to suit that person’s tastes and mental attributes.
Before sitting down in my own choice seat, I glanced around me and saw a glassy look in the eyes of all the seated passengers. My own eyes no doubt took on the same trance-like look, because as I sat down all memory vanished along with my objective perception. I too was lost in my own private dream world, and I was so busy correlating this new experience with my past life that time just seemed to disappear. By the time this assimilation had taken place, I realized that I must be missing the thrill of riding in other cars. I jumped off on the platform and immediately awakened again to the world around me, and realized that I had been asleep and dreaming.
The rest of that day I spent experimenting. I would take different cars and different seats, but the result was always the same. I found that as long as I remained on the platform a clear perception of everything could be maintained, but the moment that my attention was arrested by an unusually attractive car I would fall asleep, and everything experienced from that point on was a part of my own personal dream world, and in a rather vague way was connected to that of the other passengers in my general group. Of course, I had many interesting discussions with my fellow travelers on science, religion, and philosophy, and we reassured one another that some of the rather frightening things that happened were either necessary or happened through the will of God.
It was only after I had jumped off that my memory would return, and I could remember all of the events leading up to the moment when my attention had been diverted, and recall the very subtle way in which my choice of cars and seats had been influenced. I could also remember everything that I had experienced while on the train, and even the supposedly intelligent conversations which had taken place in the cars. While I remained on the platform, in an objective state, I could see how superficial our lengthy discussions had been. What had seemed to be the whole world had only been a tiny fragment of it, so that any judgement or action stemming from it accomplished very little good. The complete picture could be seen and intelligent action taken only by remaining on the platform and in the state of awareness.
I also saw that even though the cars of Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, and Smell were separate, they were all part of the same train, and were only focal points that attracted attention. Once on board, a mysterious blending of the whole dream-train into a single unity took place. A kind of mutual conditioning effect occurred. The passengers took on the qualities of the train, and the train took on the qualities of its passengers. I could see that this gradual conditioning process – called by some growth, progress, or evolution – was only a sort of glorified “merry-go-round.”
I could see the whole picture only be stepping off the train. It was easy to be caught up in the mass hysteria especially as no advance payment had to be made for a ride; anyone could jump on board. Many, no doubt, thought there was a free trip to an ultimate pleasure, and were unaware that it was a “pay as you leave” system. Some of the prices paid seemed to me extremely high, since they included sickness, old age, and death; naturally, there was a great deal of grumbling when payment fell due.
After a great of deal of inquiry, I found out that there had been other, isolated cases similar to mine, in which individuals had awakened, and because it did happen from time to time, a new type of pass had been authorized. It was called “The Cycle of Perception,” and was available free of charge to anyone with the capacity for awareness.
I immediately took advantage of this information and obtained one of these special passes, and from then on my experience was quite different. Instead of falling asleep immediately, and remaining asleep for the duration of the trip, I only slept at the moment of choice; immediately thereafter I was able to wake up, and the rest of the trip took place in a state of awareness.
It seemed to work in the following way: As the cars came into view, and I began to feel an irresistible attraction towards a particular car, I would fall asleep; I would then awaken in my favorite seat on that car. I had always remained asleep for the duration of the trip when this had happened before, but now I was able to watch the whole procedure objectively in a waking state. I could see the superficiality of the whole scene, and was no longer carried away by the conversations of my fellow passengers. In this way, my desire to blindly participate in this means of transportation gradually diminished, and as a consequence my trips became shorter and less frequent.
The use of “The Cycle of Perception” pass was mandatory during the transition that I was going through, a transition from a state of unconscious participation (in which I was immersed in a hypnotic dream) to a state of complete wakefulness (in which there was no longer any desire to use this antiquated means of transportation).
I have since tried to tell others on the platform of my experiences, but my words seem to fall on deaf ears. Some people think I’m crazy but most think that even questioning such a wonderful train system is foolish. “It is here, so why not enjoy it,” they say. Others think that I should not speak about it for fear that some authority might overhear and bring the whole thing to an end. Personally, I am tired of watching this “merry-go-round,” and keep wondering if it may not all vanish into thin air some day. How and why it originally got started is a mystery, but its continuity is assured through the unlimited supply of avid passengers recruited from the entire human species.
In closing my account of the strange phenomenon which I have been describing, let me add the following. I have found out that this train was conceived of and dedicated millions of years ago by the earliest human beings. In the beginning, the train was a simple thing, but because it has been refined and added to over the intervening years, it has become the pride of our times. Habit has also played a great part in its growth. Through careful observation, I saw that the people who were waiting usually chose familiar cars each time. Those who were considered leaders (or who were able to easily persuade others) seemed to be held in great regard, because then people didn’t have to make their own decisions. Most passengers also felt much more comfortable when there were others on the same car, and they aided and abetted each other in their choices.
Through common usage, this “Train Of Thought” has become the universally accepted mode of transportation. All educational institutions are geared to programming their students in making the ‘right’ choice on the “Thought Train.” The resulting systems of thought, with all their subtle nuances, are held in great esteem. These, in turn, support the whole social structure and the economic system, which explains the nervousness and outright anger that is aroused by any suggestion that there might be a better means of transportation. The constant threats to the system caused by war or natural catastrophes make a few people question the whole thing, but this rarely happens. I have recently discovered for myself that there really is a different way of getting to where one wants to go. It is through direct perception, and the result is an instantaneous oneness with the object or situation itself, including all of its related phenomena. It eliminates having to choose anything related to “The Train Of Thought.” Direct perception makes the old method of doing things seem obsolete, except as a means of continued communication with other people. I can conceive of a future state in which more and more people would use this new dimension, and thereby create a brand new society.
The new social structure would be based on real values in human relationships. Of course, many of the destinations of the “Thought Train” would be dropped, such as War, Prejudice, Yours, Mine, Reward, Punishment, Courage, Politics, My Country, Authority, Philosophy, and so on. There would be a complete social upheaval, since people engaged in these activities would be forced into other lines of work. It is not hard to see why the train is so ancient, nor why even the slightest effort to upset the status quo is met with resistance from all of those whose livelihood depends upon it.
Perhaps only rare individuals can step away from it from time to time.
Please become aware of your own “Train Of Thought” and find direct perception and now-consciousness.
Albert Blackburn (1988). Worlds Beyond Thought. Conversations on Now-Consciousness. Idylwild Books, P.O. Box 246, Ojai, CA 93023.