Last week we talked about Anomalous Cognition, which is a term used to describe the mind’s ability to receive or perceive information that is otherwise unknown or unknowable. Anomalous Cognition was a term specifically coined to describe the process by which Remote Viewing — a military intelligence tool — could yield successful reconnaissance results.
This week, we’re looking at a concept expounded on by Robert Waggoner in his book Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. Lucid dreaming is the phenomenon of being able to awaken inside a dream. This means you know you’re dreaming and your memories and personality from your waking life are in tact. Because you have your usual every day consciousness inside the Lucid Dream, you can decide to explore issues, ideas or problems prior to going to sleep.
Prior to reading Waggoner’s book, I’d had my fair share of lucid dreamings. They began over 20 years ago when I was an undergraduate. And I found them deeply philosophical and profound. I spent most of my time conversing with dream figures and exploring the incredibly detailed dream terrains. It shocked me how well represented, for example, a tree trunk was inside my dream. Or that prior to opening a door, I had no idea what I would see on the other side, and that as I opened it, there was a completely furnished apartment I had never seen before in my life.
In those dreams I realized that there was an unconscious part of myself that not only created my perceived reality, but that it concealed that process of creation from me, so that everything sort of just appeared out of a dark unknown. This is not much different from our experience of waking reality.
But Waggoner’s book introduced me to an even more interesting idea. He advised the reader to put down the unending fascination with the dreamscape itself or the pursuit of endless potential pleasures and to address the dream itself as a source of collective unconscious knowing. Even more profound was Waggoner’s claim that the unconscious — out of which our dream experience and dreamscape ebb — is conscious. That is, Waggoner wrote, there is an unconscious which is intelligent and responsive to our questions and requests. If it is intelligent and responsive then it has to be a “conscious unconscious.”
I decided to try out a bit of anomalous cognition using Waggoner’s idea, armed with the knowledge that successful remote viewers access the same phenomenon to receive information that is not otherwise available to them in the waking world. I set my intention to become lucid before going to sleep. A lucid dream state did not occur immediately, it took me about a week to achieve. I became lucid inside a dream where I was in my bedroom. Interestingly, the dream bedroom contained the new dresser I had recently bought. The bedroom was an exact replica for once, usually the dream bedroom is slightly altered in some way.
Once I realized I was lucid, I remembered the question I had for the conscious unconscious and I asked it about an anxious feeling that had been bothering me. Instantly my brother appeared. Of course he was not necessarily my actual brother, but a representation of him, and in a few seconds he showed me a piece of ginger, he rubbed at it with his thumb as though to clean it or to imply grating it. He placed it on a mantle in my bedroom and he said “for 5 months.” Excited, I asked to see the cosmos. Nothing happened there (no cosmos for me this time) and then the dream dissolved.
When I woke up, I was surprised by the answer “ginger.” Ginger is not something I eat, or like much, and I have no recollection of having ever connected it to my knowledge-base about anxiety. I was also a little confused by the dream’s suggestion that I should put a piece of ginger on the mantle. How could that ritualistic act possibly help with anxiety? I decided, however, to see what effect, if any, was ginger thought to have on the brain if consumed. Soon enough I had my astounding answer. I found a study conducted in 2010, which found that active ingredients in ginger acted as partial agonists on a specific Serotonin receptor, namely, 5-HT1A. Here is the abstract from that study:
Animal studies suggest that ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) reduces anxiety. In this study, bioactivity-guided fractionation of a ginger extract identified nine compounds that interact with the human serotonin 5-HT(1A) receptor with significant to moderate binding affinities (K(i)=3-20 microM). [(35)S]-GTP gamma S assays indicated that 10-shogaol, 1-dehydro-6-gingerdione, and particularly the whole lipophilic ginger extract (K(i)=11.6 microg/ml) partially activate the 5-HT(1A) receptor (20-60% of maximal activation). In addition, the intestinal absorption of gingerols and shogaols was simulated and their interactions with P-glycoprotein were measured, suggesting a favourable pharmacokinetic profile for the 5-HT(1A) active compounds.
As you can see 9 compounds in ginger, including the whole lopophilic ginger extract, were found to partially activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, contributing to a reduction in anxiety. What is more stupefying is that upon closer inspection of these compounds, I found that shogaols become present only when ginger is cooked or dried. This might explain the meaning of having to put a piece of ginger on the shelf (i.e. letting it dry) that I saw in the dream.
While it is possible that somewhere in my history or research and writing I had come across the fact that ginger was linked to a reduction in anxiety, and that in my dream state, I was simply recalling something I once read, the preparation (i.e. drying of ginger and grating it) as well as the duration of use (5 months) and the quantity (the size of the piece of ginger shown to me), all of which are the basic essentials of a prescription, were definitely not known to me.
When it comes to whether anomalous cognition exists or not, or whether if it exists it defies our understanding of reality, is not something that people who have never encountered this experience can easily resolve. It’s only when you have experienced anomalous cognition for yourself, over the course of a lifetime, and after numerous attempts involving doubt and invalidation, can you come to a deeper understanding of the human mind and the vastness of the world it is capable of connecting to. Until such time, it’s perfectly reasonable for anyone to continue to debunk or explain away or rationalize these experiences. At least for now, the truth of our individual experiences of PSI phenomena are incommunicable.