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Know Thyself: The Existential Senses By Kurt Leland

A note about Charles: In the text below the author mentions Charles. Here is his brief description of how Charles came about.

“Since 1981, I’d been developing a relationship with a nonphysical teacher called Charles. Inspired by Jane Roberts’ relationship with Seth, I learned to contact Charles in a trance state and either speak or write his messages, sometimes in longhand, sometimes at a word processor keyboard.”

Know Thyself: The Existential Senses

The first step in becoming a multidimensional human is developing our existential inner senses. These senses ground us in our personal identity. When we know our true identity, we can get closer to the Source through the environmental and kinesthetic inner senses and open up to deeper levels of union with other beings through the relational inner senses.

The existential senses enable us to discover our life purpose, so we begin serving the greater good of all. They correspond to the philosophical and spiritual dictum: “Know thyself.” Without the existential senses, we have no access to realities beyond the physical. Our identity isn’t strong enough to encounter the otherness of Otherwhere without possible damage. Such damage may include terror at this otherness intense enough to prevent us from exploring astral projection any further.

At age fourteen, I experienced such terror during my initial OBEs and did everything I could to shut them down for the next six years. When I discovered what they were, I began to open up to them again. But it took another six years before my identity was strong enough (at twenty-six) to begin exploring nonphysical reality. By then, I’d been reading the Seth material for several years. My existential senses were fully operational. I was ready to begin exploring Otherwhere.

In this chapter, I’ll define each of the existential senses and demonstrate its usefulness in astral projection, providing a provisional belief to activate it. The next chapter will offer practices for developing these senses.


The first existential sense is consciousness. According to Seth, “Everything that exists on any plane and under any circumstances contains consciousness.” Besant concurs, declaring that “Consciousness is the one Reality, in the fullest sense of that much-used phrase; it follows from this that any reality found anywhere is drawn from consciousness.” The consciousness sense grants awareness of others and ourselves as consciousness. It’s the basis of self-awareness, the gateway to all the other inner senses.

If everything is consciousness, then we can build relationships with anything that exists, on any plane, on the basis of our common consciousness. Moving between planes with the kinesthetic senses requires nothing more than shifting our consciousness to perceive (environmental senses) and interact with (relational senses) other forms of consciousness on that plane. On the physical plane, the consciousness sense opens the way to empathy (not just commiserating with someone, but actually feeling what they feel) and telepathy (thought transference).

The provisional belief that activates this inner sense and opens us to all the others is: Everything is consciousness.


The second existential sense is durability. This sense guarantees the continuity of consciousness in any form for as long as and for whatever purpose that form is required. It’s the basis of identity. The durability sense allows us to recognize ourselves as ourselves. We have an unshaken sense of identity that goes back to childhood, despite the different sizes and shapes our body has taken since then. Durability of consciousness underlies that continuous sense of identity.

The durability sense also allows us to recognize and interact with any other consciousness. Without this inner sense, none of our friends or family would be recognizable to us. At best, they’d seem like dream images—new and different every time we perceived them, with no possibility of developing ongoing relationships.

The durability sense provides physical and nonphysical entities with recognizable identities. It’s essential for reading and projecting information about idents, Monroe’s term for the way we recognize the entities we encounter in nonphysical reality.

Monroe defines idents as the “mental name or ‘address,’ i.e., energy pattern” of beings encountered in nonphysical reality. A similar idea exists among theosophists: the mystic chord, which Leadbeater describes as the unique combination of vibrations generated by our etheric, astral, mental, and causal bodies. This “combination of sounds” is our “true occult name” by which we may be identified and located anywhere in nonphysical reality. Just as every chord has a root or fundamental tone, so does our mystic chord.

This fundamental tone is the durability of our consciousness, which has been created for a particular purpose and lasts for as long as we require to evolve back to oneness with the Source. It’s the same as what theosophists call the monad: our truest, deepest self, the God within us.

The provisional belief that activates the durability sense is: Our consciousness is inviolable. We won’t suddenly become someone or something else as a result of exploring psychic and mystical experiences. We continue to be ourselves, no matter what.

Believing in our durability of consciousness and its inviolability is essential for feeling safe in any nonphysical environment. No matter what pressures or influences we encounter there, our consciousness will endure. Aspects of our personality may change as a result of such experiences, but the core or essence of who we are—the monad—will not. Even death does nothing to change the durability of our consciousness. We leave the physical body behind and our consciousness takes up residence in our most developed energy body, usually the astral, mental, or causal.


The third existential sense is creation. Creation means the dynamic tendency of consciousness to express itself in ever new ways. Seth says that creation is a constant process, “the addition of something new, and something that has not existed before” to any universe, plane, or reality. Creation results in births and beginnings, the initiation of a new consciousness or growth process.

This inner sense has many applications. For example, in nonphysical reality, we create our experience more or less instantly. On the astral plane, emotions create our experience. On the mental plane, thoughts create our experience. The same thing happens in physical reality, but in a greatly slowed-down fashion. Here, sense impressions create our experience—in particular, the memories of past pleasures.

Creation provides us with experience—the inner or outer form taken by any expression of ourselves. As an inner sense, creation allows us to set goals and to perceive the steps necessary to achieve them.

The provisional belief that awakens the sense of creation is: Whatever we experience is our creation. It’s either an expression of ourselves, generated by our memories, emotions, or thoughts, or something that our memories, emotions, or thoughts have drawn to us. If we don’t like what we experience, creation gives us the power to change it. But first we have to take responsibility for the realities we create. Otherwise, we end up feeling like helpless victims.

In Otherwhere, the inner sense of creation allows us to determine the difference between negative entities we’ve created from our fears and those which pre-existed our encounters with them. It’s an essential tool for feeling safe in nonphysical reality. I’ll return to the subject of negative entities later.

The best way to practice using the inner sense of creation is to be creative in fine arts, crafts, or daily living. Draw, paint, sculpt, compose, dance, write poetry or fiction. Make pots or quilts, garden, cook, weave, knit, or sew. Move the furniture into new arrangements or redecorate a room. You could even revert to the joys of childhood play, building with blocks or erecting sand castles on the beach.

Do something creative every day. Making room in your daily life for creativity breaks down old habits and routines, increasing flexibility of consciousness and awakening the creation sense. Many books are currently available to support you in becoming more creative, such as Julia Cameron’s bestselling The Artist’s Way.

As you awaken the inner sense of creation, you become more aware of, awed by, and grateful for the wonders of creation that surround you. You begin to recognize that you, too, have the power of creation. Not only do you become more creative, but also more cognizant of how you create your own reality. The power to change life conditions that aren’t conducive to your growth stirs within you. You’ll know that you have the ability to realize any plan or dream.


The fourth existential sense is evolution. Theosophists claim that we’re all evolving back toward oneness with our Source. During this process, the consciousness of every mineral, plant, animal, and human being explores and realizes its evolutionary potential. The evolution sense provides us with an instinctive understanding of how to do so.

Besant defines evolution as “latent potentialities becoming active powers.” According to Blavatsky, the goal of evolution is achieved only when consciousness has passed “individually and personally, i.e., spiritually and physically, through every experience and feeling that exists in the manifold or differentiated universe.” The goal is to become coequal with the Source in experience, feeling, and understanding.

The 13th century Sufi poet Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi expresses a similar view of spiritual evolution as follows:

“I died from the mineral, and became a plant;
I died from the plant, and reappeared in an animal;
I died from the animal, and became a man;
Wherefore then should I fear?
When did I grow less by dying?
Next time I shall die from the man,
That I may grow the wings of the angel.”
From the angel, too, must I seek advance;
“All things shall perish save His Face.”
Once more shall I wing my way above the angels;
I shall become that which entereth not the imagination.
Then let me become naught, naught; for the harp-string
Cryeth unto me “Verily unto Him shall we return.”

My adventures in Otherwhere have taught me that we do indeed become something like angels once we’ve completed our evolution as human beings in physical reality. The two Guides I encountered during my sun/heart adventure were at that level of development. I call such beings Facilitators, because they facilitate our growth while we’re in physical bodies and when we’re between lifetimes in nonphysical reality.

There are many levels of development within the human evolutionary cycle as well. Charles says that we begin as infant souls, just getting used to being in a physical body. Then, like children, we begin to explore and master our physical environment, as baby souls. As young souls—the equivalent of adolescents— we become competitive, ambitious, driven to succeed. As mature souls—the equivalent of adults—we make lasting contributions to science, politics, art, and the humanities. As old souls, we seek to expand our consciousness, to develop ourselves as spiritual beings and explore realms beyond the physical.12 At each level, in our own way, we’re trying to get closer to the Source—to move to the next higher level of being. When we pursue psychic development and astral projection as a spiritual practice, we accelerate our evolution by actively seeking oneness with the Source.

Our soul is an expression of that Source. The soul has a master plan for our development in each lifetime. When we draw closer to the soul by fulfilling this plan, we get closer to the Source. The soul’s master plan is an expression of our function within the whole of creation—as much of it as we can embody in a particular lifetime. Discovering this plan through the evolution sense leads us from the physical plane to the etheric, astral, mental, and causal bodies. It’s a process of mastering our physical sensations, our emotions, our thoughts, and our fate. Thus we’re led by the soul to master and transcend our personality.

Beyond the causal body, our evolution sense leads us to realize our function within the Source itself. The soul is replaced by the monad as the guiding force in our growth. The monad has a more comprehensive plan for our development than the soul—a plan that includes what we’ve learned from all of our lifetimes in physical reality and what we’re about to learn as we explore the higher planes, especially when we’re between lifetimes.
The process of discovering and living from this plan leads us to develop the buddhic and nirvanic bodies—which Besant calls “supernormal evolution.” Eventually, we achieve the monadic body, becoming fully aware of this plan. We merge with our monad.

Theosophists say that at this point, we’ve completed our evolution as human beings—our divine potential is fully realized. Yet there’s still one body to master in our search to achieve oneness with the Source. But how we get to the divine body and what we learn from it are things that “entereth not the imagination,” as Rumi points out.

The provisional belief that activates the evolution sense is: We each have a life purpose (a soul-based master plan) that our impulses allow us to perceive and realize.

The soul sends us impulses directing us toward activities that realize its plan for us. When we perceive and act on these impulses, we develop our evolutionary potential. The evolution sense allows us to become aware of such impulses.

Charles defines seven components of the soul’s plan. Creating a lifestyle in which we live from all of them on a regular basis is the best way of developing the evolution sense. In line with the master intention’s idea of serving the greater good, each component of our life purpose is a mode of service.

The first is service to the body. By this, Charles means eating nourishing food (neither too little nor too much) and getting regular exercise. If your body breaks down, none of the other components of your life purpose can be served effectively. You may be confined to physical reality, unable to access psychic information or explore the higher planes.

The second is service to the soul. This means working with the soul to discover and then to live from its master plan. Reading books about spiritual development, pursuing spiritual practices, recording and interpreting dreams, learning to receive inner guidance, and consulting trustworthy spiritual teachers and healers will help us develop this aspect of our life purpose.

The third component of our life purpose is service to the Creator. By this, Charles means exercising our God-given creative gifts. The Bible says we’re created in the image of God, and this phrase is often interpreted in terms of our creative abilities. I covered this aspect of our life purpose in the discussion of the creation sense.

The fourth component is service to personality. Many spiritual traditions teach us to deny the senses or kill the ego. By personality, Charles means the full range of being human on the physical plane, from dancing to viewing the wonders of nature, from great sex to seeing a movie, from going to a museum to riding a mountain bike.

Such activities increase our willingness to be present in the body and on the planet. Through them, we counterbalance the intense focus of spiritual and creative work, the challenges of responding to the needs of others, and the demands of our job. We refresh ourselves with playfulness and fun.

The fifth component is service to family. By family, Charles means not only our next of kin, such as our parents, siblings, and children, but also the spiritual family of our closest friends. Service to family involves being sensitive to their needs and available to satisfy them without preventing our own growth in the process. Again, the greater good of all includes ourselves.

The sixth component of life purpose is service to humanity. This is what most people think of as their life purpose. The idea is to find work that benefits others and harms no one, often a challenge in the world of business. This can mean volunteer work if a job doesn’t involve a recognizable component of service.

The final component is service to all life. This means living in a way that benefits other life forms on the planet, not just human beings. By not wasting water, food, or energy; by recycling, protecting wildlife habitat through supporting land conservation, buying green, and eating low on the food chain; by maintaining a policy of not harming plants, insects, and animals we help our fellow creatures survive and thrive. If we have pets, spending time with them is also a way of serving all life. So is gardening and putting out birdseed.

Our soul sends us impulses to direct us toward activities that realize its plan for us. When we perceive and act on these impulses, we develop our evolutionary potential. The evolution sense allows us to become aware of such impulses.

Through realizing this plan, our identity becomes strong enough that we can begin throwing our consciousness into other physical beings and experience how the world looks or feels to them, just as we might throw our voice as a ventriloquist. In nonphysical reality, it’s possible to become that being, to merge our consciousness with it so completely that what it knows becomes what we know.

Everything that surrounds us on all planes is conscious and has evolutionary potential, a purpose within the whole of creation. The evolution sense allows us to experience all of creation, from every conceivable angle. On higher planes, this sense provides the basis for melding minds with other forms of consciousness, an essential mode of information exchange. I’ll discuss mind melds in a later chapter.


The fifth existential sense is fulfillment. In addition to our life purpose, we each have a growth trajectory: where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we’re going in the process of discovering who we are. This trajectory determines how close we are to the Source—and what we must do to get even closer.

In Hinduism, the concept of dharma embraces several of the existential senses and clarifies the concept of our growth trajectory. The simplest definition of dharma is path. Besant expands this definition by describing dharma as: “the inner nature [consciousness], marked by the stage of evolution [evolution], plus the law of growth for the next stage of evolution [fulfillment].” Our dharma is our growth trajectory, including our life purpose and the soul’s master plan for our growth.

Know Thyself

As noted, the evolution sense allows us to become aware of the master plan for our growth and what it demands of us—through impulses sent by the soul. The fulfillment sense motivates us to act on these impulses. We discover what the law of our growth requires at a given stage in our evolution and then accomplish it. In Hinduism, this is called following the path of our dharma.

When we perceive an impulse to grow in a certain direction and subsequently follow that impulse, we experience a rising sense of bliss. This bliss can manifest itself in a variety of ways: inner peace, satisfaction, happiness, or ecstasy. Joseph Campbell, the famous scholar of comparative mythology, said, “Follow your bliss.” He was talking about the fulfillment sense.

The provisional belief that awakens the inner sense of fulfillment is: Bliss is the result of living from our life purpose (dharma), a sign we’re getting closer to Source. When our degree of bliss or happiness rises, we’re fulfilling the soul’s master plan for our growth—we’re following our dharma. When it falls, we’re working against this plan. We may be pursuing selfish ends rather than the greater good, neglecting ourselves in favor of serving others, or avoiding the next step in our growth.

Our growth trajectory is the record of these movements closer to (or farther from) the Source. For most of us, these are micro-movements, the result of moment-by-moment choices made in physical reality that increase or decrease our level of happiness in barely noticeable ways. But for those who pursue astral projection as a spiritual practice, living from the master intention produces an exponential increase of bliss as we master each energy body. Our growth trajectory (or dharma path) becomes the ladder of planes that leads us back to the Source.

Simple as it seems, we begin—and accelerate—our movement along this growth trajectory by becoming aware of our physical needs, then seeking to fulfill them. Such a practice develops our inner sense of fulfillment, making it easier for us to sense and respond to the subtler needs involved in accessing our energy bodies.

Physical needs are one form taken by impulses from the soul. Satisfying those needs is a means of service to the body, an aspect of our life purpose. We should sleep when we’re tired, get up when we’re rested, eat only when we’re genuinely hungry (without stuffing ourselves), drink something when we’re thirsty, use the bathroom before discomfort sets in, and exercise daily.

When we ignore these needs, our performance in physical reality suffers. Our ability to sense needs and impulses from other aspects of the soul’s plan for our growth diminishes. We’re unlikely to access psychic information or to visit higher planes. We may even be getting farther from the Source because we’re not serving the greater good, which includes the physical body.

If you’re having trouble sensing the direction your life should be taking, try focusing on these basic physical needs. You’ll notice that your needs in other areas get clearer and easier to follow. You’re activating the fulfillment sense, finding your way back to the soul’s master plan.

A second way to attune ourselves to the fulfillment sense is to pay attention to other impulses. True impulses come from the soul. They direct us out of habit and routine and into realizing less familiar aspects of the soul’s plan for our development.

Typically, we follow impulses toward serving family and humanity (or at least our job, whether or not it benefits humanity) to the exclusion of all others. To develop the fulfillment sense, notice and respond to impulses that serve the soul (something that focuses on spirituality), the Creator (something creative), the personality (something fun that increases your willingness to be present in your body and on the planet), or all life (something that benefits other creatures, such as pets). Life often takes on an added dimension of magic as a result of pursuing such impulses.

Through activating the evolution and fulfillment senses, we become aware of our purpose in this life, the soul’s master plan for our growth—our dharma path. The ensuing bliss informs us of the degree to which we’ve fulfilled this plan and how much closer we’ve gotten to the Source. Our identity becomes stronger and we get even closer to Source. The result is a further increase in bliss—and access to higher planes and energy bodies.

The clearer we get about who we are, the easier it becomes to sense the evolutionary potential of others and where they are on their growth trajectory— their dharma path. We can guide people (including a partner, our children, co-workers, friends, and clients) toward discovering and realizing their own soul’s plan. In so doing, we’re serving the greater good of all, further increasing our bliss, and bringing us yet closer to Source.

As we activate the evolution and fulfillment senses in ourselves and begin extending them to others, we develop our ability to sense the purpose and growth trajectory (dharma path) of any entity encountered in Otherwhere. We’re preparing ourselves for the relational inner senses, which allow us to perceive their idents or mystic chords.

Awakening the Existential Senses.

Here’s a reminder of the provisional beliefs that awaken the existential inner senses. Make a copy of this list and review it often as a way of reinforcing your intention to awaken these senses in your pursuit of psychic development and astral projection as a spiritual practice.

Everything is consciousness (consciousness)

Our consciousness is inviolable (durability)

Whatever we experience is our creation (creation)

We have a life purpose (a soul-based master plan) that our impulses allow us to perceive and realize (evolution)

Bliss is the result of living from our life purpose (dharma), a sign that we’re getting closer to Source (fulfillment)

“Know Thyself: The Existential Senses” is an extract from The Multidimensional Human: Practices for Psychic Development and Astral Projection by Kurt Leland, published by White Crow Books.


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