2.2 We Can Do That Here!

After I returned to Pittsburgh, I contacted a new friend I had met at Duquesne University, Rolf von Eckartsberg, who had been a grad student under Timothy Leary at Harvard and was now a professor of Phenomenological Psychology at Duquesne University. He had done many psychedelics, so I figured he would know what this fantastic alpha experience was all about. As I sat in his sunroom telling him about this alpha experience I had had in California, Rolf listened very, very attentively. When I had finished, he leaned forward across the table, smiled, and said, ‘We can do that here.’ All of a sudden, the light bulb goes on, YES! we can do this here! We have a soundproof chamber in the Psychology Department at Carnegie Mellon; I had seen polygraph equipment, so I immediately went to work to begin the process of trying to replicate Joe’s work on my own.

Yoga lessons:

As I was partway through telling my story to Rolf, one of his neighbors happened to drop in and hear a bit of the conversation. She left and quickly came back with
the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. If somebody had given me that book before this alpha experience, I would have tossed it. I had no interest in meditation, Eastern religion, or mystical spirituality. I was a Protestant – Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (the most conservative wing of Lutherans). However, I now realized that the alpha experience and all the feedback, and all the things that had happened to me were actually very similar to meditation. So I read the Autobiography of a Yogi and found it profoundly moving. Then I gave it to a close friend, who found it also profoundly moving. So he sent away for the correspondence lessons that the Self-Realization Fellowship had put together on Yogananda’s teachings, and we started doing Raja Yoga lessons to prepare for another encounter with the unmanifest, which my ignorance and unreadiness had led me to fear and avoid while in the feedback chamber that summer. We actually ended up doing seven years of these Yoga lessons and were eventually initiated by one of Yogananda’s direct disciples, Swami Kriyananda.

During this period, I was doing some pretty intensive yoga meditation AND doing regular brain wave feedback. I also listened to Ram Dass’s tapes, started running research studies, scoring polygraph records, and writing for publication.

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