I prefer to call it the Nowhere.
The Void, also known as the 3-dimensional blackness, or Focus 21, among its many names, is said to be a launch pad into any other state. Why?
The names we call it--the void, the Nowhere, the 3D blackness, etc.--suggest it is a vacuum of sorts, a place where other things are not. A place of nothingness. And it is this very nothingness that makes it a sponge for anything. As a sort of vacuum, it attracts whatever state you are closest to achieving, Intent-wise. Intent is like your current default. Even the notion of a default setting suggests the way a vacuum works: in the absence of some other volitional act, a pre-existing default setting automatically asserts itself.
We all have our hopes and dreams and fears and phobias and fantasies and what-not. Well, when you stand in the Nowhere (the 3D void), whatever you have next in line, Intent-wise, in your innermost innards, that is the thing that is automatically sucked into the Nowhere with you. So, if you're not sure what you have lined up in Intent, go float around in the Nowhere and you'll find out.
Naturally the analogy of things getting sucked into a place is incorrect. Nothing travels anywhere. This is good, because it means that results are instantaneous. What you Intend... IS. No lag, no travel time. The Nowhere is the ultimate sci-fi portal, the door to anything.
As the embodiment of nothingness, the Nowhere is easy to miss, easy to pass through without noticing, or to mistake for something mundane. A common thing to mistake it for is a non-existent thing I'll call 'OBE blindness'. Often when people first experience a state of expanded awareness, they don't see anything. Habitually interpreting their experience in physical terms, they assume they are blind. But in fact, they are in the Nowhere. Not only does the Nowhere lead to all possible states; it's also where you end up on the way out of any state. Sometimes too quickly to notice, but I have experienced it in this way. The other common mistake is to assume that ending up in the Nowhere is the end of the unworlding experience. You think you're laying in bed with your eyes closed when in fact you're in the Nowhere and could theoretically have any experience you want, if you were better prepared. Awareness of the physical should never keep you from trying to unworld.
Mistaking the Nowhere for blindness as commonly happens at the beginning or the end of the unworlding experience has made it easy for me to miss the convenient opportunity it affords to experience next anything I want, or more accurately, whatever I happen to have lined up next in Intent. One time, my first thought when I ended up in the Nowhere was, 'Oops I got too excited and it's over,' because my lucid dream scene had blinked out when I ecstatically drove my bicycle over a cliff. Seeing nothing but blackness, I opened my eyes and that was that. When I could have chosen to see anything. Live and learn.
Another time I had a classic OBE exit, which began in a blind state. I didn't even know I had woken up in the Nowhere. I thought I had awoken sitting up in bed with my sleeping mask on, so I lay down, slid out of the bed like a greased eel but in slow motion, and only when I failed to hit the floor next to my bed, I realized I was unworlded. I couldn't see anything. I was in the Nowhere, because I had gone into an expanded state gradually in a relaxed way so I didn't shoot through it. Since I barely had heard of the void at this time, I said, 'I need to have vision,' according to the Buhlman 'clarity now' school, while simultaneously recalling what I had planned to do if I ever found myself in the Unworld, according to the Michael Raduga school. Being in the Nowhere, the Intent I happened to have lined up perfectly and manifested the first item on my Intent-o-Genda: looking in a mirror. There was no struggle to make myself see, and I didn't have to walk, fly or float the rest of the way to the mirror; from the Nowhere my intent just slid into place and I was looking in the mirror without ever having to struggle with making myself see. Because my well-formed Intent involved seeing something specific.
There was no coincidence involved. The blindness of the Nowhere easily merged into a mirror because blindness and mirrors are both manifestations of the Nowhere.
Another time, I woke up in the Nowhere, but again didn't know I was in it. I knew I was wearing a mask in bed, and wondered why I could see a large, fuzzy spot of bright white light. I quickly talked myself out of opening my eyes to check my mask, and then by focusing attention on the light, energy sensations ensued and I went into the next state that happened to be lined up in Intent. Which turned out to be nothing at all--a blank Intent-o-Genda--so I floated around more or less at random and in less than I minute I was back in the Nowhere, again mistaking this for lying in bed with my eyes closed. So it all starts in the Nowhere including the physical dream of waking up in bed when it's over. The bed and closed eyes and morning breath and that whole scene is just a physical symbol of the Nowhere.
But next time it could be the bedroom ceiling or door or window. When you go through it, you're somewhere else, and if you're a beginner, some believe that the further you get from your bedroom or its non-physical placeholder, the greater your chances of being unworlded for more than a few seconds. Since the Nowhere is a transition layer between all varied states, the more doors, windows, ceilings, walls or portals you go through, the more fences, hurdles, obstacles or mountains you climb, the more corners or roundabouts you go around, the more whirlpools or prisons or bad guys you escape from--with focus and effort--the more fully unworlded you will be, according to the Urumara theory. On the other hand, escaping the Urumara is another major theme and beginners especially should be familiar with many version of trying to crawl backwards out of a claustrophobic space and the like. These are more than dream symbols, they are even more than universal archetypes. We're talking about the framework where archetypes reside: Synfonemia. The Urumara is another reflection of the Nowhere, seen as a kind of mechanical contraption, like a one-way valve.
Testing this theory out will be a major theme of the sequels to this book.
One time, I was involved in a dream brought to me by my duplex 4ness dream body Nitpicker and Potwatcher, who were building fences and wanted to get paid. The fences were symbols of the Urumara, which is the entrance to the Unworld. When I went inside to find them some money, a party was going on. Someone introduced me to a very tall man, in the guise of an old friend of Robert Monroe's named Bruce Moen, and I was told that this tall man was who I 'needed on my committee.' The committee being my Soul Retinue, my collection of dream bodies. The tall man's hat brushed the ceiling, because he was trying to get me to look at the Nowhere (the blank ceiling). One of my other dream bodies--everyone at the party was one of my dream bodies--managed to get me to look in a mirror by engaging my most reliable aspect--social anxiety--and I was shocked to see by my outfit that I was potentially my most relaxed aspect, Limberluck, my 8ness dream body, who worries not and flies a lot. I had merged with my 8ness dream body upon looking in a mirror, i.e. going into the Nowhere.
I immediately found myself outside--the Nowhere is the key to teleportation--and decided to pretend I was dreaming. On a lark I hopped into the air and to my great surprise, flew over the top of a building. Of course I remembered who I am (became lucid) and when I got myself calmed down, I started automatically doing the things I happened to have lined up in Intent based on all the reading and mental focusing that I'd been doing. With no mirror to dive into, as prescribed by my Intent-o-Genda, I dove into the ground instead. Nothing had happened--read that carefully--because I had experienced the Nowhere by diving into the ground, so my vision had disappeared. Remembering the oft-read instructions, I 'closed my eyes' and tried it again, and this time when I dove into the ground I got the sensation of motion I was hoping for. This led me to a relatively prolonged experience in which I continued manifesting items from my Intent-o-Genda, items which I'd managed to get lined up in Intent somehow.
In this case, where was the Nowhere? When I tried to dive the first time, with my eyes open, I went into the Nowhere but since I didn't yet know anything about the Nowhere or how it functioned or what its purpose was, I just manifested the first thing lined up in Intent: doubt. The dive failed; I felt I'd gone nowhere except blind. But I enthusiastically ignored the failed attempt and got another chance when I closed my blinded Unworld placeholders-for-eyes and dove into the ground again. No wonder I'd been instructed to close my dream eyes or Mind's Eye before attempting to go through a wall, a window, a mirror, or into the floor or ground.
Since the Nowhere is the door to anywhere, one way into the Nowhere from any ongoing dream plotline is to close your eyes and imagine some action that means 'travel' to you. From place to place we go, by accessing a variety of states without going anywhere. It's helpful to know that there is no travel needed to unworld--to 'travel' non-physically from any place to any other place--and to know that when you close your eyes in a dream, you will be in the Nowhere forthwith, with potentially instant access to anything and everything depending on your level of experience and a certain level of dumb luck. I didn't know this when I dove the second time, but it worked. After a period of activity which seemed both travel-like and not travel-like, I regained plot vision in a new state and went about manifesting the next item in Intent.
And before all that, the mirror. Which deepened and altered the experience even though it didn't quite get my attention engaged all the way.
Another time, I was deeply involved in an engrossing dream plotline watching my 6ness dream body, which often uses sex appeal to get me interested in my existence due to the promise of interaction with a desirable member of the opposite sex. She was demonstrating a gymnastics device she'd invented to measure effort on a chin-up bar, by doing chin-ups, when everything came together spontaneously and I was unexpectedly catapulted into the Nowhere at a high speed, like being shot out of a cannon. I had a strong sensation of movement straight up, got too excited, and had no idea I was in the Nowhere, since the books I'd read at that time had not mentioned it. So after indulging in a great deal of excitement and euphoria and feeling the 600 mile-per-hour vibrations and feeling my cheeks literally flap in the wind like a cartoon character, I forgot who I was (lost lucidity) and woke up in my dream again.
In the above experience, the Nowhere resembled the static of a television with no station in tune. The white dots on the black background--which is a common description of the 3D void--were smeared into streaks by the experienced sensation of quickly shooting straight up past them. Remember, the Nowhere is 3D; they call it the void or the 3-dimensional blackness for a reason. There's no way to get around referring to states of mind as places, but we should occasionally remind ourselves that a map of routes to the Unworld is just an imperfect depiction, no matter how helpful it is.
Another time, a plotline included lucidity from start to finish, starting and ending in the Nowhere, not a 3D blackness this time, but a place of solid, billowy, brownish-gray clouds. The clouds gave it that 3D quality while there was no other visual feature to it except for some bland colors and soft light.
The Nowhere can also mix into another state, and it doesn't have to be black. White's cool. Or a reflective, shiny layer like a window, mirror, or glossy paint, body of water, or even a glass container or plastic bag, it's all the Nowhere shining out at you. The Nowhere is key to our experience and nobody even knows about it yet. Not like they should. This is Fred Aardema's big contribution; even Frank Kepple failed to grasp its key importance to the extent that Fred has done. Robert Monroe just called it Focus 21 which is about as non-descript as he could get, but I think he was aware that he was penciling things in on the map, not producing the final version. Too bad his kool-aid drinking disciples don't get this point, but eventually they will since their product is too expensive to hook the masses who are hungry for a better map.
Fred Aardema relates experiencing the Nowhere as if it were a broken mirror. In other words, he had a scene in his scopes, then the scene literally shattered into big shards like a sheet of glass, with the scene still painted on the glass shards that flew apart, with the area of blackness between the shards growing larger as they flew apart. A graphic display of how the Nowhere underlies every state.
Frank Kepple had a favorite approach to the Nowhere that involved seeing a closed blind made of rotatable slats, like a Venetian blind. When you open the blind by rotating the slats, the darkness appears between them, growing larger until the thin edges of the slats are facing you and all you see is the blackness that stands perpetually behind everything.
I experienced a slatlike entry into the Nowhere just the other day. I had laid down in the afternoon to do some unworlding exercises (Noticing and Beanstalk Climbing, which turned into deep sleep). In a dream that was very close to being lucid, I looked from above at a rectangular screen as a group of young boys marched up to a huge metal slatwork on the ground, yanked it open with military precision, and scrambled down through the resulting black gaps into the darkness below. A bunch of juvenile delinquent chimpanzees followed them down; I merged with the monkeys and found myself in the Nowhere. Of course seeing only blackness, I thought I had woken up from the dream and opened my eyes, not realizing I had attained lucidity in the Nowhere. The difference between shifting to the Nowhere and waking up in your bed with your eyes closed is a fine distinction that is hard for beginners to appreciate but gradually becomes obvious with the ability to Chain back into the Unworld.
This is how lucidity tends to come: before or after a dream segment, mistaken for waking up in bed. In Michael Raduga's world, you've woken up in the phase, there's nothing to do but get back out there and have another experience. But we tend to think we're in bed awake, so we have to talk ourselves out of this habitual point-of-view, by reminding ourselves that being real in the Unworld feels just as real as being real anywhere else. It is existing that feels real, not so much where we happen to find ourselves existing. I should know better since my two classic OBE exits were experiences where I woke up in bed having no idea that I was already unworlded, but when I moved my body, I found it was not the body I had expected it to be.
One time the Nowhere was a big picture window with a huge aquarium behind it. I didn't get this one at all; the man behind the aquarium who was taking care of his tropical fish was wearing a black eye patch. There's your void, twice over: the man with the eye patch was the Dream Usher, and the big window and aquarium symbol was the Nowhere. Highly symbolical, but it led to a Big Dream. Starting with the Tunnel (a covered sidewalk) pointed out by a dream body in the guise of my ex-wife.
There's nothing unusual about the Nowhere interposing itself symbolically right into plotline content. You can expect to see it or its dream body aspect, the Dream Usher, in the final scene of most dreams. It will also lead from one main portion of a dream to another, so the Dream Usher often drives a distinctive vehicle or is dressed oddly or smaller than other people or whatever. A Big Dream I had not long ago involved a big screen blocking the way into the back half of the bank in the mall. It was made of black clouds of exactly zero thickness, it was going to be a movie screen for a movie entitled Darkness, and it was a time portal, it led to a different day. Best of all, my higher self Whirly (my 9ness dream body) showed up as Curly of the Three Stooges and put on a funny show about being afraid to step through it.
The Nowhere is commonly depicted as a large white surface. The other day I was in the Library, a place I also go in Daytime Practices when I Climb the Beanstalk, and my 4ness dreambody--which is comprised of two workers who are always found together so I call them the Dichotomous Duo--were helping me apply for official access to the Library (also known as the Akashic Record and thought by Monroeites to be in Focus 27). Then my granny Amelia popped in wearing a long tan coat covered with gridlines, that is, Frank's slatwork. I didn't get it, so she tossed the Nowhere onto the Circulation Desk countertop to my left, trying again to show me the Nowhere, but all I saw was the little points of light, symbolically, as a plastic bag full of bird seed. Unfortunately due to my non-lucid condition, I mistook the little points of light for kitty litter, and once that feat was accomplished, I was sure I could see big turd-clumps in the bag with the bird food stuck to the outside of the clumps. But being a tough and tenacious granny, she isn't one to give up easy. She tried again, this time asking me if I wanted a drink. That's her main modus operandi, trying to get me to ingest energizing liquid nourishment.
I looked at the bottle she'd placed on the countertop. It looked like a rum bottle, indicating altered states, and it was full of the little points of light. I again mistook the points of light for bird seed, but gazed long enough at the clear bottle full of little brown seeds and popped into the Nowhere this time. It was easy to mistake it for a large sheet of plywood with an obviously very thick (3D) coat of glossy white paint on it. The shiny white object filled my entire visual field. I became engrossed with a three-dimensional ridge of dried paint along the bottom edge that looked like a place where masking tape had been painted over or something. The mind spontaneously creates symbols for things we are not prepared to see.
Such as the so-called real world. What happens when you gaze out in front of you with your eyes open, relax your eyes, and stop talking to yourself? You see the Nowhere with the world superimposed on it. This super accessible experience of unworlding is eerie, and cool, and so generically ubiquitous that we don't even notice it. The Nowhere--the door to anywhere--is absolutely everywhere. It seems to fit between each of our moments like some kind of glue that holds each succeeding world together, when in fact it is sitting behind those moments and we see pieces of it when we slightly defocus the vision of the world that we normally cling to. The Nowhere is the screen upon which 2ness, 3ness, and 4ness create the world, in pieces like jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together due to the interaction of the lower chakras or dream bodies.
One of my favorite unworlding experiences took place when I was Noticing and had an Awakening into a first person perspective wherein the experience became totally self-generating with me as an active participant. I was looking at a black screen with Nothing on it but a small yellow X up at the top right corner, same place as the one we use to turn off a Window on a computer. The X had a way of floating around on the screen instead of being fixed to one spot. It would drift off the screen and I would lose my lucidity, forget who I was, drift into sleep for a second. Then it would drift back onto the screen and I would remember who I was (regain lucidity). This was shortly before one of my first conscious separation experiences.
So, after a review of my own experiences both lucid and not, I will have to agree with Fred Aardema that the Nowhere is in fact the door to anywhere as well as where you go when leaving any particular state.