This article also appears on Conscious Life News
What if when you enter a room, instead of looking about with your eyes and listening with your ears, you first employed your feelings to get a sense of the place? If you did this every time you entered a new space, how would it change your perception of place? How would it transform the way you relate to the world, to people, to your experience of self as a conscious being?
There is a man who teaches people how to do exactly this, and his name is Peter L Nelson. A clinical psychologist with a PhD, Peter is no ordinary scientist. He is also a “seer,” a person who has been trained to sense what lies within the spaces that we normally do not look upon.
Peter’s recent book Way of a Seer makes bold claims. The volume is founded upon the conviction that the human mind is connected to “second-stream of consciousness,” and that the information that this provides for the individual can be practically applied in our daily lives. This spiritual intelligence is innate, but our society and education system has forgotten it, instead conditioning us to tightly focus our attention on a very narrow range of perceptual experience. We are taught to push, to compete, to win. We are not taught to relax and look. We are not taught to listen. Instead, we impose ourselves upon the world, and in doing so miss its subtle essence and much of the information contained within places, experiences and people.
Peter’s induction to the world of seers is as remarkable as the teaching itself, as he told me recently on my podcast The Consciousness Files. In his early twenties Peter was a disgruntled postgraduate student spending his time cutting open rats’ brains in the university lab. He found the entire programme distasteful. Despite his inquisitive scientific intelligence, Peter never felt quite at home in society and modern education. He had long had disconcerting psychic experiences, which he tended to push aside.
One night he had a dream of flying over green hills, and had the profound sense that he knew the place he was seeing. The following night at the cinema he saw the exact same scene again, which was in Devonshire, England. He had a profound sense of longing to travel to the country.
In a series of coincidences, he soon met a wealthy woman who offered to take him there. He made the decision to quit his studies and soon found himself in London. To try to make sense of the experiences he was having, Peter visited the British Society Psychical Research (15:45 mins). It was there that the librarian began to act a little strange. She insisted that he read a letter, which she stated was very important. Peter declined, but he struck up a friendship with the woman. Eventually she convinced him to read the letter. It turned out that it had been written ten years before. It was apparently addressed to Peter himself, even though Peter had never met the writer. It described details of Peter’s life that appeared to be too accurate to dismiss as coincidence.
At first Peter thought it was some kind of scam, but the disorienting effect of the experience stayed with him. Despite his fear and the unsettling effect on his life, he maintained his relationship with the woman. She would, over a period of years, teach him how to become a seer.
According to Peter Nelson, perhaps the most important aspect of “seeing” is that it transforms our way of relating to people, the world and the cosmos. It is vital to helping us rediscover the connectivity that we have lost in our modern, economically-developed cultures.
What I particularly like about Peter is his honesty and the “scientific” approach to what I prefer to call “integrated intelligence.” He does not profess to know all the answers to life, the universe and everything. Indeed “not knowing” is central to his personal philosophy. We humans are very limited in what we can understand about the universe, he says. Yet even the simple act of noticing what we don’t pay attention to can be transformative.
Take a look around you now. What did you first pay attention to when you entered the room? What do you never pay attention to in this space? A minute of quiet meditation on these two questions can reveal much about what you have become – and what you have not become.
Perhaps Peter L Nelson’s way is not for everyone who works with the extended mind, but I think all “seers” can gain a great deal from his “critical” approach. Peter is not so much interested in laying down dogmas and certainties, as in problematising the way of the seer. He is sometimes critical of false or naive approaches to seeing, but I think this is a good thing.
The world needs people with the courage to speak and write openly about this often-maligned area of human perception. Seeing deeply is not merely an interesting aside to the human story, like attending a psychic reading or playing with a ouija board when you have had a few too many drinks. I am in full agreement with Peter L Nelson that non-ordinary perception is central to rebalancing the greater story of our civilisation and our species. Peter L Nelson makes an invaluable, fascinating and very accessible contribution to human knowledge.