When I discovered, along with the books of Robert Monroe, the existence of the whole set-up he and his collaborators created in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, to offer the possibility to others of sharing the kind of inner explorations they had themselves become such great specialists of, I sighed with contentment and awe: the Monroe Institute, or ‘TMI’ as it has come to be called, was obviously one of those very important places for humankind nowadays, where Conscious Evolution is happening in a deliberate, organized and collective manner, proposing now an ever vaster choice of specific training programs for those having gone through the indispensable first one that has become so well-known and popular: the Gateway Voyage.
I knew already of the Edgar Cayce Center, the ‘A.R.E.’ (‘Association for Research & Enlightenment’), in Virginia Beach, and I noticed both places were located in Virginia, so presumably not too far from each other.
A stray thought came through my mind: how nice it would be to some day go there and visit those two places! I found myself smiling happily contemplating that thought. For a second, I did wish this could come true, and I imagined myself there; then I came back to reason, and to the financial reality I was living in: no income, as I was a ‘Voluntary Honorary Worker’ in Auroville since many years, getting from Auroville enough for living here, but certainly not for traveling around the world all the way to the USA, let alone for paying the high cost of that initial ‘Gateway Program’ I longed to experience!…
And yet that stray thought and the brief but intense wish that it gave birth to had their effect:
I did go to the USA… twice even! The first time in 1991, with a ticket suddenly and unexpectedly offered to me so that I could go and give a needed talk on the Psychic Being for a gathering of spiritual seekers in Seattle, Washington; and a second time in 2001, as part of a kind of world tour I happened to have to make that summer, invited to give workshops about Conscious Evolution and Integral Yoga in various parts of France, Europe, Russia and South America. As a Researcher without any income I had just obtained from the TMI itself the exceptional gift of a scholarship: a free participation in their Gateway Program!… All my other travels were paid for, the only thing missing was the money for my plane ticket from Paris to New York and back; in view of this rare TMI opportunity I shouldn’t miss, the ticket was kindly paid by one of the Auroville commercial units, ‘Maroma’, bless them.
So one fine day during that rather hectic summer of 2001, I found myself arriving at the Nancy Penn Center, my heart beating with expectation and excitement at being finally on the premisses of that Monroe Institute my beloved Bob Monroe himself had put together!!! What a moment!…
Standing there outside and looking around, I felt everything in this place was helpful for the expansion of consciousness, even the physical surroundings: from the gentle green slopes upon which the ‘Nancy Penn Center’ was built, with its octogonal glass tower dominating the whole compound, to the far successive horizon lines of the mountains, ever more distant, yet ever more beautiful… Seeing the tower too gave me at once a joyful shock, of recognition this time: it has such a very special story, as told by Bob in his third and last book, ‘The Ultimate Journey’ (that will be for another post!…) I sent a sweet ‘Hello!’ to the tower as if it were a dear friend, and in a sense it was, after all these years reading again and again the passage about it.
Then I stepped into the building as such, and the first moments of my Gateway week.
Other participants were also there; after being officially identified and registered, we were shown our respective quarters.
The booth that would also serve as bed for night sleep was immediately reminiscent to me of the cabin berths in some of the big ships I had traveled on during my childhood – happy memories. The restaurant and the food it served were great, everything on the physical level was superbly organized, but what impressed me most of all was, during the first meeting all together as a group, the inner quality of the TMI persons who would accompany us in our ‘Gateway Voyage’. The whole atmosphere, far from being being one of technical know-how as I was afraid it would be, was one of simplicity and, yes, spirituality.
The week went too fast, I was just starting to really settle down and get used to the equipment and the sound/music in the headphones. There was also the recorded voice of Robert Monroe gently guiding us, but alas in my case the language was a problem, I wasn’t able to really follow what was being said, or I understood too late. On top of it my own habitual way of going within was conflicting with the new way proposed, it was difficult for me to relinquish totally my thirty years of a certain approach to inner dimensions, for adapting to an approach completely different because the goal itself was completely different. Probably someone new to everything wouldn’t have had that difficulty, but I had it. Still, I had very special and nice inner experiences there in my booth.
What about an OBE?… I didn’t have one – that I know of. In the end I was actually relieved not to have had any, for I had been secretly very scared of having one and of being so terrified that I would be unable to re-enter my body!… With such a fear within me, it is probably better that I didn’t get an OBE, for the fear itself might have produced the result it was afraid of. I kept remembering Mother’s warning that one should not try to have an OBE if one was afraid. One had to be fearless – or at least brave enough to be able to face whatever situation might arise, without panicking. I certainly couldn’t say I was that brave…!
So I came to think it was actually by divine protection that during that week at TMI I staid put in my body, or at least didn’t have any conscious OBE in which I would have seen my body down there while I would be floating above somewhere near the ceiling.
As for tunnels and light at their ends, I have had that several times before in very significant ways (although in a different context than in an OBE or an NDE), so I didn’t really need that either, to me it wouldn’t have been something new.
I ended up asking inwardly the Divine if then the money spent for my coming to TMI had been wasted; the answer was no, it hadn’t been wasted, because it was necessary that I, as an ‘official’ researcher from Auroville,
had the direct experience of the place, of the program, of the people doing it, the participants as well as the assistants, the overall atmosphere, the whole thing, so that I could later speak about it from more than just hearsay. Also, it was important that one Aurovilian had been physically there, so that a concrete link be established between that place and Auroville, two Laboratories of Conscious Evolution doing their work, each one in their respective way.
Last, but not least, I was told that while both were places for expansion of consciousness, it was through two complementary approaches: TMI was about expansion of consciousness outside of the body, Auroville was adding expansion of consciousness inside the body, something absolutely necessary for enabling the body too to participate in the evolutive thrust of the whole being towards a ‘Life Divine’ right here on Earth. Both approaches are necessary for that new step in terrestrial evolution: our consciousness must learn both its independence and freedom from the body, and yet learn also that the body too is but a form of the Divine, the material form that now can awaken as well to its own divinity.
The consciousness of my body-cells has indeed been quite happy with our week stay in TMI. That says a lot as praise to the place!