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The "Unknown" Reality, Volume 1
Jane Roberts
A Seth Book
Spiritual Science
Published by Prentic-Hall/NJ in 1977
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2000

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Today is tomorrow, and present, past,
Nothing exists and everything will last.
Jane Roberts, page 1.

Frequency was an interesting 2000 movie on many levels. If you watch the movie, you can see the multiple changes occur in the present 1998 time of John's life as he has a conversation over a ham radio with his dad living in 1968. Each time one of those changes occurs in his life, John is the only one who is aware that a change has happened. No one believes him if he tries to explain how things used to be before that dramatic change. Now imagine that in this lifetime, you are communicating with your parents some 30 thirty years in the past and they are acting on the information you receive. Each time they act, your life changes, and neither you nor they remember how it was before the change. If that is the way life truly operates, you would not be the wiser, and neither would anyone else. This might sound a little crazy and far-fetched, but it is consonant with what Seth and Jane Roberts wrote about thirty years ago in The Education of Oversoul 7 and The "Unknown" Reality. They called it probable pasts, presents and futures. To get a flavor of how those operate, watch Frequency. To get an understanding of how this aspect of your reality works, read The "Unknown" Reality, Volumes I & II.

When I first read "Unknown" in 1979, I had not yet begun the practice of making comments in the margins of books and providing a date glyph with the comments. When I re-read "Unknown" in 1984, I had begun and many of my comments in this review stem from the notes from that second reading. Those marks in the margins are a communication from a past me to a present me: my 44-year-old me talking to my 60-year-old me.

What makes Jane Roberts' books so amazing is the tri-fold level on which they are written. First, in any book that has "A Seth Book" on the cover, as this one has, the major portion of the book contains a verbatim transcription of Seth sessions, i.e., sessions in which Jane Roberts in deep trance spoke as Seth. Her husband did the transcription, first in shorthand, and then typed up the material. The second level comprises the Introduction, interspersed notes, eleven Appendixes and an Epilogue that her husband Robert Butts wrote to provide background to the production of the books and inside information about what happened during the sessions that he was transcribing. The third level comprises the comments that Jane herself makes about the material that she is channeling through Seth. Jane's comments are interspersed in Butt's notes, etc.

As noted by Butts in his Introduction, Seth led off with this hint at the structure of time in his 14th session way back in 1964:

[page 10] '... for you have no idea of the difficulties involved in explaining time to someone who must take time to understand the explanation.'

One gets the idea that our limited experience of time makes it extremely difficult for us to comprehend its true nature, like a fish trying to understand the reality of water. After reading what Howard Margolis has to say about the barriers that Hobbes and Boyle had coming to a mutual understanding of the "ocean of air" that we humans live in, I'm not at all surprised that we would have difficulty understanding the ocean of time that we likewise live in. Somehow, in movies such as Back to the Future and Frequency we break open the tender shell of time and lay out its structure for all to see. Lacking, as we do, the ability to see our machinations as John was able to in Frequency, we believe that they do not exist, up until now.

In the book next to this next quote, I noted in the margin that Seth was pointing to his intention to create many unanswered questions. Since I wrote those words in 1984, I can now pinpoint my understanding of the "power of an unanswered question" as pre-dating that time. See Matherne's Rule #25: What is the power of an unanswered question?

[page 11] "No book entitled The "Unknown" Reality can hope to make that reality entirely known. It remains nebulous because it is consciously unrealized. The best I can do is to point out areas that have been relatively invisible, to help you explore, actually, different facets of your own consciousness . . . I am well aware that the book raises many more questions than it presents answers for, and this has been my intent . . ."

Below is another great quote by Seth, one that I would agree with wholeheartedly. From the 590th session, Chapter 22, Seth Speaks:

[page 13] "You are not fated to dissolve into All That Is. The aspects of your personality as you presently understand them will be retained. All That Is is the creater of individuality, not the means of its destruction."

This speaks to a point that Rudolf Steiner makes in many places: that the "I" or our individuality is given to us in freedom. It is the essence of our freedom, rightly understood, and it can only be destroyed by our own inattention and negligence over several lifetimes.

My fundamental hypothesis about life is that if there is a process one human being could do, then we all can do it, and are doing it all the time, out of our awareness. If we apply that to Jane Roberts' processes as described in her books, we get a hint of our own capabilities. Here's how Seth says it in his Preface:

[page 22] Jane Roberts's experience to some extent hints at the multidimensional nature of the human psyche and gives clues as to the abilities that lie within each individual. These are part of your racial heritage. They give notice of psychic bridges connecting the known and "unknown" realities in which you dwell.

Reading the above quote, I get a sense of why the word "unknown" is in quotes in the title and wherever it appears in this book: Seth is pointing out that it is not really unknown, but only appears to be unknown, up until now. It certainly becomes less "unknown" in the process of reading and re-reading this book of his.

[page 23] Here, I wish to make it clear that this book will initiate a journey in which it may seem that the familiar is left far behind. Yet when I am finished, I hope you will discover that the known reality is even more precious, more "real," because you will find it illuminated both within and without by the rich fabric of an "unknown" reality now seen emerging from the most intimate portions of daily life.

In the next passage Seth's probable or incipient selves remind me of what Everard Polakow in his book The Soular System calls Planets or orbiting selves. Also of what Piero Ferrucci calls subpersonalities in his book What We May Be.

[page 45] Within the entire identity there may be, for example, several incipient selves, around whose nuclei the physical personality can form. In many instances one main personality is formed, and the incipient selves are drawn into it so that their abilities and interests become subsidiary, or remain largely latent. They are trace selves.

How does one get all these peripheral selves lined up?

[page 46] In terms of energy, intent is stabilizing. There is a center to the self, again, that acts as a nucleus. The nucleus may change, but it will always be the center from which physical existence will radiate. Physically, intent or purpose forms that center, regardless of its reality in terms of energy.

Thus we have intent as the center of our being and subordinate selves that try to express themselves in all directions. In the margin of this next passage, I drew a flower with a center and petals growing from that center in what was to become for me the symbol for the Self with its subpersonalities.

[page 55] You grow probable selves as a flower grows petals.

At this moment, 5:57 PM Central Standard Time on December 12, 2000, I am typing these words and experiencing my "moment point." Note how the concept of "moment point" helps explain the power of the limitation eraser, which some of you may not have heard about, up until now. Here's Seth definition of the phrase "moment point": [Note: Seth directed Butts many times to underline for emphasis certain words and phrases, as shown in the next passage.]

[page 56] In your terms the phrase is necessary the moment point, the present, is the point of interaction between all existences and reality. All probabilities flow through it, though one of your moment points may be experienced as centuries, or as a breath, in other probable realities of which you are a part.

In Steiner's view, anything less than free will is unacceptable to him, freedom and spiritual activity are one and the same thing. To be lured away from freedom by Luciferic or Ahrimanic spirits is to defeat our own best interest, rightly understood. Given the choice of becoming the moral automatons of Lucifer or the automatic amoral beings of Ahriman, we can do no better than to rise above their illusions of the false alternative, and seek some unpredictable solution offered by neither. [See ARJ: Angels by Rudolf Steiner.]

[page 59] Anything less than complete unpredictability will ultimately result in stagnation, or orders of existence that in the long run are self-defeating. Only from unpredictability can any system emerge that can be predictable within itself. Only within complete freedom of motion is any "ordered" motion truly possible.

One of the most difficult things to comprehend is how a plant is able to grow from a miniature seed or bulb. Think back to Frequency, the movie, in which John, some thirty years in the future, converses with his father over the radio and tells him how to fix some problems that exist in John's time as he knows it. According to Seth, this process is not only possible, but happens all the time, without our conscious knowing, and makes up a large part of what he calls the "unknown" reality in which we live.

[page 79] Go back to our bulb and flower. In basic terms they exist at once. In your terms, however, it is as if the flower-to-be, from its "future" calls back to the bulb and tells it how to make the flower. Memory operates backward and forward in time. The flower calling back to the bulb, urging it "ahead" and reminding it of its (probable future) development - is like a future self in your terms, or a more highly advanced self, who has the answers and can indeed be quite practically relied upon.

This reminds me of how I used to add a year to my wife's age each year. She didn't like it, but unconsciously I was assisting her to communicate with the person that she was becoming. I wrote in the margins of page 80, these words: "Our God that we pray to for guidance and answers may be our future self who gives us the best answer for our self now! Who would object to a deterministic universe in which everything always and all ways worked out for the best? EAT-O-TWIST!" [Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To]

If "memory operates backward and forward in time" as Seth says above, then it's possible to remember the future. One day my daughter called me to say that she put a ring on her finger and got this incredible feeling. I suggested that perhaps she was "remembering the future." I explained that the reaction she got was due to her remembering the many years that she will have that ring on her finger in the future. With a few weeks, due to a series of interesting circumstances, her husband of seventeen years gave her that same ring as an engagement ring a ring that they had never been able to afford before. Like my daughter's ring appeared from future onto her finger in the past to create its future existence, so also does the human grow from a fetus:

[page 88] The fetus grows into an adult, not because it is programmed from the past, but because it is to some extent precognitively aware of its probabilities, and from the "future" then imprints this information into the past structure. . . . From your platform of poised now-experience, you alter both the past and the future, and that alteration, that change, that action, causes your point of immediate sense life.

Our body, in other words, is like a building being renovated, it is reacting to future as well as past activity in its living present moment. We, as inhabiters of our body, have been carefully taught that our consciousness exists within our flesh, and those beliefs keep us from daring to view our body from a standpoint outside of it, up until now. (Page 94)

[page 111] Your consciousness and neurological prejudice blind you to the full dimension of physical activity. The true implications of physical action are not as yet apparent to you.

Such as the true nature of teaching in which the communication flows from one mind to another is not apparent to us, up until now. The teacher's lesson plan and her subsequent flow of words in front of the classroom are merely roadmaps for the speaker to ensure that her internal pathway of thought is followed by her and her students. When those aspects all come together the teacher becomes a tuned transmitter of thoughts and the learners become resonating receivers of those thoughts. Thus a Teacher, so Also a Learner.

This nature of teaching and learning came to me in an episode when I was reading to my wife, Del, and my mind wandered as I continued to read without any change of tempo or tonality. She was no longer able to follow me, and stopped me to ask what those words meant. Until that time, she was receiving my direct thoughts as I followed the lesson plan and spoke. When I thought of a change to the lesson plan as I was reading the canned lesson plan she received that thought and became confused as it did not match or illumine the words I had spoken. It was then that I first discovered that, "... the importance of written words is the thought paths that they carry us and others along" as we say them; that a teacher's lesson plan is to ensure that she thinks the right thoughts as she gives her lesson to the students the next day. To ensure that she does not merely recite words empty of thoughts broadcasting from them. Lacking this understanding, we live but on the surface of things, subject only to sensory data and those pale images of the sensory data, materialistic scientists would have us believe are the meager impact of our thoughts, up until now. Seth talks about that subject thus:

[page 126] Again, you live on the surface of the moments, with no understanding of the unrecognized and unofficial realities that lie beneath. All of this, once more, is tied in with your accepted neurological recognition of certain messages over others, your mental prejudice that effectively blinds you to quite valid biological communications that are indeed present all of the time.

From Seth in this book, I learned that the plans of architects are "precognitive events inserted from a probable future into the present." (page 140) I learned that my "thoughts and feelings are quite as real" as my cells, and that my "desires go out from me in time in all directions." But Seth is also speaking to you, dear Reader. Listen to his voice:

[page 140] On the one hand as a species your present forms your future, but in even deeper terms your precognitive awareness of your own possibilities from the future helps to form the present that will then make that probable future your reality.

Our thoughts and feelings are quite real, but as a physicist I was taught to distrust feelings and trust diagrams. Seth must have taken some of the same physics courses I did by the sound of what he says about diagrams:

[page 221] But most physicists do not trust felt answers. Feeling is thought to be far less valid than a diagram. It seems you could not operate your world on feelings but you are not doing very well trying to operate with diagrams, either!

As the indigenous Southern philosopher, Pogo, once said, "What's so bad about the blind leading the blind? The seeing been leading the seeing all these years and see where that got us." What does this all mean? It means that when we use our instruments to probe reality, we can discover a reality that exists at the same level as our instruments. With our man-made instruments we are like the blind being led by the blind.

[page 226] Ultimately your use of instruments, and your preoccupation with them as tools to study the greater nature of reality, will teach you one important lesson: The instruments are useful only in measuring the level of reality in which they themselves exist. Period.

What is the level in which we ourselves exist? Is not that level deeper or greater than the level of our paltry instruments for measuring the sensory world? Can we not do something that our instruments are unable to do, namely, to communicate with the present and the past? Are we not ready to discard the folly of Francis Bacon and our five hundred years's fall into materialistic distrust of our greater faculties as human beings? I, for one, am ready.

One last quote from this amazing book, this time from "A Brief Epilogue" by Robert Butts, Jane's husband. It is a Seth quote from the 742nd session, April 16, 1975:

[page 287] "Empty houses are psychic vacancies that yearn to be filled. When you move, you move into other portions of your selfhood."

It's been fifteen long years since I last read this book, and a lot of amazing things have happened to me. I moved into an empty house during that time and into other portions of my selfhood. I began to write reviews of every book when I finished reading it. I published several books of poems and my first book of reviews and essays. I wrote my first novel. I began to read and study the books and lectures of Rudolf Steiner in earnest and for the first time discovered a true spiritual scientist, someone who had already done in his life what I was forming a plan to do in my life. And going back through this work of Seth, Roberts, and Butts, I have come to realize that the "unknown" reality that Seth writes about is the same reality that Steiner was able to experience and write and talk about in his almost 6,000 lectures between 1898 and 1925. If you have read Steiner and not Seth, or vice versa, you are in for a treat as you discover the insights of the other writer for the first time. This is as good a book as any with which to begin your journey. Read on.


Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne


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