In the spirit of the dynamic and shifting nature of these experiences, our first author, “Manfred Steiner III,” has asked to be allowed to publish some “disconnected notes and follow-up thoughts.” Please be aware that this piece was composed after Steiner had finished reading Mr. E’s entry; references to the previous author refer to him and not MDK. He also wishes to express that, since composing this, his conclusions have changed significantly, though not in a way he is ready to write about at this time. We are happy to have some insight into this process, and hope other authors will consider doing the same thing in the future. This project is about discovery; current research is always welcome.
Like the individual in the previous entry, when I began reading the Exegesis, I found pieces that almost directly mirrored conclusions and ideas of my own. Some of the ideas I was familiar with, having read Dick’s work as well as the previously-available material from the Exegesis, but others would have been unknowable, except to the editors. This includes ideas about space and time, specifically about time as not just non-linear but much more nuanced and self-influencing. It included ideas about the universe as a subset of some other reality, or at least as the major object in a game or system which extended beyond its mere form. It included ideas about human suffering and cruelty, about the android nature of the universe, which is not evil but simply uncaring, about the Logos, the living language that breached realities, about knowledge as a real force itself, about identity as an iterative, overlapping thing, about synchronicity as the modus operandi of the living mind of the world.
I’ve come to an understanding that is hedged in some of Dick’s conclusions, but which he never fully settles on and which I’ve never heard anyone else express. Somewhere in Cosmogony and Cosmology, he briefly alights on an idea that the universe is a learning machine, wherein God might accumulate knowledge or experience. He also suggests that the universe is the literal womb of God, and that we are giving birth to God – an idea that I find beautiful if not correct. I essentially believe a version of the former to be true. The strong pushing-through of information I experienced, which both mirrored the action in Ubik and seemed to point to its central idea about reality, led me without much issue to Gnostic ideas; of course, I’d already been exposed a little from reading Valis. But therein I saw a cosmology and a religious aspect, and found that only the cosmology held weight for me. What I retained was the idea of the universe as somehow partial. I retained the idea of emanation, to some degree, and of being “selected” to have some measure of this hidden knowledge revealed to me.
I essentially believe that the universe is a false or at least limited part of total reality. I believe that a meta-entity – not (necessarily) god, but like god in many ways – which is comprised of a shifting set of permutations of individual aspects, has exploited this physical universe for its own purposes. The entity has realized that its near-perfect intellect has prevented the development of character, and, in the drive to better oneself which lies at the heart of human life, realized that only by limiting itself could it grow. So it drops its aspect – a small portion of the whole – into occluded human lives. Upon death, the experiences of each being are absorbed into the whole. Some of us have more of that substance, or more awareness of it (or perhaps only some of us are truly “real” at all); this makes for a richer life, but also means that the entirety of the truth cannot be hidden. More of this substance inherently means more awareness – that’s the nature of the entity.
This essentially means that reincarnation is correct, but only to an extent; I may be reincarnated in two different people, each sharing my essential nature with another. I often feel as though my wife and I are both reincarnations of Phil, with his own internal polarizations split evenly into two people. Is this sounding crazy enough yet?
I also struggled with the idea of Sophia for a while. I had an experience one night, well after these things had happened but while I was knee-deep in the Nag Hammadi documents. In the moment before falling asleep, I allowed myself to extend a feeling of need outward. Almost instantly, I was struck with the presence of a feminine force, one which seemed utterly familiar. She gave me a thought, pure and clear: she told me “All love is perfect. Even yours.”
I struggled with this for a while, but settled eventually on the understanding that meta-entity has certain access points, if you will, which are not physical but experiential and can be accessed by the driving force of desire. Sophia is a part of the entity, available to those who know how to contact her, in order to keep us stable in our limitation. She is, therefore, also part of us.
It’s come to my attention that quite a few of those who have had “these experiences” are writers. I feel strongly that there’s something in the personality profile of those of us who have been exposed to this knowledge which makes us prone to telling stories. It’s a thread I see running through Gnosticism as well, and which clearly includes PKD. In many ways, I think this is the way in which any insights or ideas found through these experiences can best be expressed and disseminated in their most meaningful form. Like one of the previous authors, I worry that too many of us shifting too much focus to this more explicit investigation of ideas is the wrong path; however, I think developing a touch-stone for sharing the difficulties and maintaining a sense that these are real and valid, not to mention shared, experiences can be valuable. I only wish to ask that anyone else out there not lose focus: Dick’s biggest influence, even with respect to the ideas he fleshed out more fully in his Exegesis, still comes from his fiction. Through this, often without being recognized, his central concerns have permeated our culture. This is something that could never have happened through philosophy and theology alone; it needs stories to thrive.
There’s a passage on page 22 of the Exegesis, starting toward the bottom, where Dick talks about feeling as though Bishop Pike was occupying his mind and life. The most succinct summary I could make of my own experiences would be that same paragraph, but with my name where Dick’s is and Dick’s name where Pike’s is. From there, I began a journey that extended beyond that initial moment, much as Dick did – a process of research and discovery, of insight and further synchronicity. It is still quite active.