GUEST ESSAY: The onward path of a dissociated alter

By Ben Iscatus

(This is a guest essay submitted to the Metaphysical Speculations Discussion Forum, where it was extensively reviewed and critically commented on by forum members. The opinions expressed in it are those of its author.)

Upon dying, Dave, being a believer in a certain brand of metaphysical idealism, was looking forward to being absorbed into the Universal Mind, perhaps to re-emerge at some other time and place as a new dissociated alter of that Mind.

As he was drawn towards the light, which he interpreted as expanding from his dissociated state into association with All-That-Is, a thought occurred to him: if a dissociated alter is the rational, self-reflective part of All-That-Is, and the nature of All-That-Is without self-reflective alters is rather akin to a crocodile with instinctive behaviour... then how did the apparently thought-out laws of nature originate? How could the rational, mathematical laws of physics, chemistry and biology precede the existence of self-reflective alters? 

This thought was enough to repel him from the light and send him to the Summerlands, which he supposed must be a place of continued personal dissociation for those alters who had the will to continue as they were, but no longer had the need to metabolise their dinner.

In the Summerlands he met a nice girl who appeared to be a perfect soulmate, and he would have continued long in this relationship, probably until his desire for more answers to the ultimate nature of being became stronger than his long, lazy dream of heaven.

After a while, however, Dave was visited by a wise looking man with a beard who invited him to attend an interview with two others. The three sat behind a table, and stared at him with benign reassurance as he stood in front of them. He wondered if this was some symbolic representation of how the number three represented the triune nature of reality, but the thought was cut short.

"Dave," said the man with the beard, "it's time for you to go back. To be reborn."

"I think not," said Dave. "I've only just got here. And in any case, I'm never going back."

The bearded man sighed. "We're here to persuade you or, if that fails, to tell you. It's our will that you return."

"Your will? Well so what? Why should your will trump mine?"

The three men briefly morphed into reptilian creatures (crocodile snouts), then reverted to their benign appearances. "Well it's like this. We are more powerful than you. You might call us gods, or... demons." They then demonstrated their power, by having him pinned to the opposite wall by an unopposable force. For an unbearable instant, a pain like being penetrated by red hot needles pervaded his whole being.

Dave felt a cold horror.

The bearded man informed him: "We get our pleasure from observing and vicariously experiencing your lives, so you have to go back. It's like you getting pleasure from watching a horror flick or a war film. But of course it's much better. Feeling your emotions, laughing at your primitive thoughts." He laughed like the Predator at the end of the film of that name. "But we also get pleasure from telling you what you want to know and experiencing your reaction. Naturally all of it will be erased, like your other memories of who you are and what you have been before. So ask away."

"Why me?" Dave croaked.

"You are sufficiently interesting to us. You're one of our group of participants. A good range of feelings and thoughts. You're coming on nicely."

"I would rather be... extinct... than obey you."

"Extinction is not an option. If your will were strong enough, you could resist. But it's not."

"It is. I insist it is."

"Look. We could simply torture you—you know, like you humans torture cows and pigs on earth. Look on the bright side: at least we don't eat you." They all laughed again. "But it would be much easier to bring that girl you've grown to love in here and torture her. Shall we do that? Shall we give her exquisite pain and make her soul scream in horror? And shall we reincarnate her in a barbarous war-torn state?"

"No! No!"

"So you'll go back. Any more questions?"

Dave felt sick with fear. "Why is the Universe not more benign?"

"It is what it is because we are what we are. You did well to question how there could be rational laws before rational creatures came into existence. The fact is, there couldn't. We are from an earlier universe. We imagined and created this one."

"But that means there's infinite regress: who created the earlier universe before you came into existence?"

"That one had a different type of consciousness. It was metacognitive from the start and it allowed its alters free rein. We're a free threesome and we chose to create this universe."

"When I go back - will it help me if I'm of service to others?"

"Oh no; giving others a sense of entitlement or gratitude keeps them in the game. Loving your enemy, hating him - it all serves us." He smirked.

In despair, Dave said, "What about meditation?"

"Ah, meditation is excessively boring to us. If you do that for thirty years, we might release you and bring in someone more interesting. But you're much too full of lovely faults and doubts. We thrive on those."

As he was on the point of reincarnating, passing through the waters of Lethe, a voice penetrated the last barriers of Dave's dissolving identity: "You only experienced all this because it was the natural outcome of your deeper beliefs. The Universe is rational and consciousness enacts laws of cause and effect. Your beliefs were the cause, your experience is the effect."

"But I did believe in a benign Idealism."

"Too superficially; too intellectually."

"How do I make it deeper?"

"If you really want to believe something at the core of your being, you have to live it. You have to embody it."

So Dave went back.

Copyright © 2020 by Ben Iscatus. Published with permission.


  1. Maybe the unfathomably beautiful laws of nature, with their exquisite elegance and symmetries, didn't need to be "thought out" by any mind; maybe they are what they are because the universal mind is what it is. Maybe the universal mind didn't choose the laws of physics in the same way that we didn't choose how our organism works. Our organism is simply a reflection of what we are, not something we thought out. And so may the laws of physics be.

  2. Maybe all that is now instinctive was once metacognitive and has simply become so well practised as to no longer require attention.

  3. Very nice essay, deeply meaningful open message written with a light note. Delightful way to express the old maxim 'be the change you want'.

    As for "laws of nature" commented above, I'm not aware of any laws. The theories of physics we currently have are all incomplete and faulty, theorized and written by humans with weird and conflicting metaphysical beliefs, in context of highly problematic formal language games.

    If we stop supposing that physics is merely perceiving and describing objective reality, but take into consideration also possibility of participatory creation (Wheeler etc.) with idealism as more fluid methodological choice, we could start to answer Einstein's old question "Is Universe a benevolent place?" by focusing more on the way of the Heart.

  4. Thank you Santeri for your kind remarks! As for the Laws, in the context of the essay, if MAL's a pirated copy of the original, they'll be more like guidelines than actual laws ;-)

  5. Ben, I'm not sure who you are but you nailed it. Amazing. This is my favorite essay here so far. Thank you. Dave (yeah, Dave)

  6. Thank you Dave, very kind of you to say so, but I wrote it the day after I had a nightmare about torture. So it is definitely skewed by that- I'm honestly not a David Icke fan. I called the character Dave because of the innocently menacing way I recall HAL speaking the name in "2001 A Space Odyssey".

  7. You should submit this to unknown country or earth files, this sounds like Whitley Striebers' and Linda Moulton Howes' worst nightmares.

  8. Dave the 2nd here...

    This of course has been my main issue with the forum here:

    "But I did believe in a benign Idealism."

    "Too superficially; too intellectually."

    "How do I make it deeper?"

    "If you really want to believe something at the core of your being, you have to live it. You have to embody it."

    Any time Idealism is brought up as a Living Path of Creation, a lot of forum denizens shoot the idea down in flames. I know part of that is the work of couple of inveterate materialists, but even then I often get friction from those who should know better. Including Bernardo himself.

    1. Elessar, I don't recognise your criticism of forum members - if there were materialists there once, they've all but gone now. Idealism expressed as a "Living Path of Creation" sounds interesting!

  9. Ben, many aspects of monastic idealism certainly appear nightmarish from my perspective, as a human being. Which is why I think your essay resonated. I remember Kastrup saying something like, idealism was not the conclusion he would have wished to reach, it simply appeared to be the best fit. This was true for me as well. It's all so painful, exhausting, and overwhelmingly beautiful, but it appears as though we only get as much as we can stand at any given point. So, on we go.


  10. A thought-provoking and insightful essay Ben.

    "If you really want to believe something at the core of your being, you have to live it. You have to embody it." This reminds me of Bernardo commenting in a different context on bringing down to the (instinctive) body what is developed in the meta-cognitive mind. Intellectual understanding + direct experience + remaining conscious of and loyal to one's metaphysical assumptions => better prospects on the other side. Synergistic interaction of open-mindedness, courage, and discipline seem to be needed. Grace and/or luck would help a lot, too.

  11. Hi Ben - You say "If you really want to believe something at the core of your being, you have to live it. You have to embody it." I believe this is not good advice. You have to embody and live what you know, not what you believe. Otherwise human beings would all be busy living and embodying different beliefs, as we see is already the case. If you really want to believe something you have to find out it's true. This is a much safer way to proceed. Many subtleties here but no room to expand.

    1. PeterJ - it depends how you define belief. The point being made here is that if you believe something at the core of your being, then you know it. Is it really possible or desirable to escape from our own individual truth?