The Well Analogy






Dick Richardson 1991 and 2007


Originally for the Exceptional Human Experience Network:

North Carolina USA


(updated in 2007 from the original format and text in 1991)




On reflection, due to mystical and psychical experiences[1] that came later in my own life, I recall what is now taken to be my own first encounter with anomalous experience.  This event took place at the age of four or five whilst I was a child in London during the war.  A popular pursuit for children of that time and place was that of exploring the debris found on bomb sites, which comprised what seemed to be half of London in those days. Moreover, they were the playground of the local tribes.  Early one bright spring morning I found myself running across such a dereliction. I have no idea now as to what was on my mind at that time; but one was probably seeking anything that might be found on such a site that could be deemed useful, like bits of string, tools, bicycle wheels, and who knows what other such childhood artefacts of great value.


The part I will never forget however, was that for some unknown reason I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks, almost rooted to the spot in fact. Suddenly thoughts came into my head; thoughts which would never have occurred to me to think about.  As I stood rooted to the spot, it was as though another part of myself were talking to me.  Questions came, such questions that I would never have dreamed of asking myself or even thinking about.  I asked myself:  What am I doing here?  What am I?  Why am I me?  Why am I not somebody else?  Why am I not a cat that lived on earth many years ago, or a dog that will not exist here for many years yet to come? Why me, why here, and now?  What am I: where have I come from: and why am I here?


We know well enough from hindsight that these are the so called perennial questions that humankind has asked, in rational and philosophic terms, ever since we were first on earth.  Naturally I did not know that at the time.  But these questions popped up in mind of their own accord and without any forethought, intent, or deliberation.  I later came to call these pop-in thoughts.  Children of five are not philosophers. However, that weird experience indeed made me begin to think and ask questions even at that age. They had a direct and motivating effect upon my topside daily consciousness. An intangible little experience acted upon and motivated the tangible—even directed it. 


Only from the hindsight of many years and many levels of experience can one see the connection, the flow, the relevance.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing; it is a pity we are not born with it. But that cannot be.  It also becomes obvious from hindsight that one person’s profound new finding is another person’s normal daily reality. On occasions, we each naturally feel that we have made the discovery and insight that the world has been in need of for millennia only to find it is old hat to somebody else.  This, of course, puts things, and ourselves, into some kind of perspective and places our feet firmly back on terra firma, albeit with a shock.


Naturally enough a child of five soon puts away such things and concentrates on the more practical activities of the day in conscious terms. Nevertheless, a seed from the subconscious has been firmly implanted into conscious awareness which, like it or not, accept it or not, begins to shape the way one thinks and gives rise to the questions to which one seeks answers.  And the process goes on, both consciously and subconsciously, for the rest of one’s life. A process by the way which demand potentiation, and not t be shunted aside or ignored.


Our existence, or life experience, could be said to be many things.  It is unarguably a learning process, but it is more than just that.  It is also a direct interaction with life and existence itself.  One comes to learn that there are levels of conscious existence which are not discrete isolated existential phenomena existing in their own independent insular condition.  Rather,  they are varying levels of inner reality that are intrinsically tied together and that work in harmony and accord with  a cosmological function within existence; some of which is conscious activity and some of which is subconscious. Also, some of which was only subconscious becomes conscious activity through the potentiation of experience – and coming to know our self.


The How questions, to some extent at least, can be analysed and got at by scientific methodology as regards tangible phenomena.  But the nature of the mind and consciousness itself are the most mysterious of all the known intangibles.  And it is the mind itself which asks itself the Why questions – as well as such How questions as  “How do I exist on earth (or at all for that matter)?,” which require, indeed demand, different answers from the “Why do I exist” type of questions.  And yet, the questions are justified questions.


We observe that every phenomenon in the known universe has a function to play in the scheme of things.  We could all think of many functions that a tree has, or the sun has, or indeed, the earth itself.  Not only is there nothing in the known universe that has no part to play in its existence within the sum of the whole, but also nothing that we know of in the universe contains its own causation.  That is to say, every known phenomenon is a product and emanation of roots that go deeper than the surface level of that particular perceived extant phenomenon.  It would thence be seen to be an isolated one-off coincidence if human consciousness had no roll to play in the cosmological unfolding of all that exists.   Consciousness experiences itself to be the centre of all that it perceives and experiences.  Everything that is not ‘‘I” is out there and all around me.  In that sense, we could say that two things exist in creation.  One “I” is the observer, and the other is all that which is not “I” – the observed.  What then is the cosmological role and function of these two phenomena; the observer and the observed?  Moreover, what is the absolute nature or essence of the observer; and what is the absolute nature and essence of the observed?


How could one even begin to understand what the observer is while remaining independent of the observed, and vice versa?   What is objectivity when not observed, and what is the observer when not observing objectivity?  How much of the observer, in reality, is also a part of the observed and how much of the observed is in fact the observer? The question then becomes: “What am I (the observer) when everything which is not really “I” is stripped away from that which  is really the essential “I” ?


In spiritual and mystical traditions, for millennia there has existed a phenomenon known as Purgation and another known as Redemption.  Purgation (irrespective of some doctrinal religious beliefs) is a process of stripping away.  Redeeming something means regaining something which has been lost or hidden from sight (or knowledge).


Of all the spontaneous anomalous experiences known to humankind there is one which, in direct experiential terms, does just that. It is often called The Mystical Reunion in the West. In this experience consciousness undergoes an event wherein everything which is not  “I” is stripped away from conscious perception, leaving only that central core or depth conscious experience of the raw primordial essential phenomenon of what that “I” is in absolute terms. It is experienced as being beyond time (changing events), space (as we normally know it), and beyond any memory of ever having existed on earth, and all personality that is attached to the personal I AM is forgotten during this event. Thus, it involves transcendence of time, space; memory and personality. Sometimes called The Eternity Experience; or The Timeless Realm.


This experiential event, in academic terms, is referred to as The Introverted Mystical Experiences as opposed to Extroverted Mystical Experience, which takes place in otherwise normal daily reality, and which are quite common.  It is perhaps the most profound and far reaching of all known human experiences.  It is from hindsight  seen to be the very experience which all metaphysical spirituality was initially founded upon -  hence a direct human experience or personal revelation of the transcendent realm and of that part of our self which exists there and which is the root foundation of our personal conscious being. Or Primordial Cognition.


Irrespective of what that experience is in terms of absolute reality (beyond the observer), the “coincidental” fact is that it directly addresses the “why” questions of life, those which no other known avenue of experience or research methodology can even address. Such an experiential event (which I have sometimes called the Paradise Event) may be thought of by some as an irrelevant anomaly of human experience, which many have undergone personally, but the fact remains that it does address life’s perennial questions. Also it is a great catalyst for human understanding and inner transformative change.  These are tangible facts operating in this world here and now. Moreover, such an experience also addresses such questions as life and death, meaning, beginnings and endings, and absolute rock bottom causation, and more.  But, in all pragmatic terms, all one need take on board is the fact that such an event causes change in this world, in the human beings themselves; and perhaps to the depth and degree of effect and change which no other known anomalous experience can quite achieve in one experience/event. And it is our actions which count in this world.


From the hindsight of over 60 years of anomalous mystical and psychic experiences I have had over the course of that time; it often strikes me as both profound, and in a way humorous, that life itself makes us ask questions, forces us to ask questions; and then mysteriously supplies the answers to those very questions which it made us ask in the first place.  There are a few coincidences too many to be accepted as mere coincidences to be sure.  We then have direct demonstrable justification for the term “Spirit” or Essence of our being.  We also then have direct justification for the term “spiritualising process.”  An analogy I once used in a book for a conceptual model of this process is the following; The Well Analogy ….


Imagine a very deep water well.  Imagine daily human consciousness to be the surface skin of the water within the well at the surface at the top of the well.  Imagine the phenomenon of the mind to be the actual water in the well.  The water in the spring is pure water (well, as pure as it can get anyway; and ‘pure’ meaning its original form).  However, on the surface of the water in the well there is stuff of the outside world and much past learning: bits floating around on the surface of the water which are not the actual water itself.  Therefore the surface water is polluted, not pure in the sense that the source water is pure in its original essential mode of being. 


Imagine, then, that the water level could fall back right down to the source of the well on occasions to experience its own root or ground of existence.  The source of the water is its essential existence whereas the water up the well is an extended emanation of it in a vortex type emanation of the life force.  Spiritualisation would then be the process of clearing the muck on the topside surface of the water in order that the topside water (human incarnate consciousness) can be a living incarnate reflection of what it is at root in its ground of being in qualitative terms (not meaning the same as).  The outer becomes as the inner, and what is above reflects what is below.  The process involves the unfolding of an implicate seed into the outer and extended reality; and in so doing modifies (not destroys) the personality. Thus moulding the ego or personality in the essential qualities of the root foundation of selfhood in the primordial life force.


What is that mysterious yet often unknown dead centre of the conscious mind?  It is this primordial SELF cognition; and which is the real you.  Just as a house brick is connected to its primordial energy through the stuff of its own interdimensional vortex of emanation;  in much the same way the mind itself contains its own inner vortex of emanation back to its own ground (a double vortex of emanation through three distinct levels or inner dimensions.  It is interesting that near-death experiences and introverted mystical experiences initially travel down a perceived tunnel of some kind.  Indeed, back down the well of its own vortex of emanation at which root we are all connected in this Eternal Paradise Event experience.


It is perhaps ironic that life provides us with spontaneous anomalous experiences which are at first highly mysterious but which later make absolute sense to the rational enquiring mind.  The ultimate coincidence no doubt.  Or is it?  As rational and highly pragmatic beings (as well as being life’s most mysterious known phenomenon)  we can take coincidence only so far. We fully realise that there is more to be experienced in life than simply that which presents itself to us by way of the five outer senses, and which are in analogy seen as mere periscopes above the waves of time and space. 


Throughout the evolution of human consciousness on earth we have seemingly come a long way in a short time; but that journey is not over. Much of what we now do and aspire to do is a matter of our own determination, or will.   But what is power without something to direct the mind in the wise use of it?  And what is it that gives this mysterious yet substantial guideline to behaviour, a moral and dignified approach to the wise use of our freedom of choice, and the aspirations that are judged best to go for?  The answers, coincidentally or otherwise, are the very intangible and anomalous experiences that come to shape our being here and now.  The rational mind without a wisdom to guide us is potentially dangerous.  Yet this wisdom is innate and built into the system itself.  It is certainly food for thought for the millennium to come.  And, as the world’s genuine mystics of all times have said: search within for the deepest answers.  Objectivity is indeed a mystery, but no more so than the mysteries which abound within the observers themselves. To isolate one from the duet and harmonious dance of the Observer and the Observed; is not only to miss ones Self, but also to miss the real dance and wondrous mystery of life itself. To know ones SELF is important. Why? Because you HAVE to know that before knowing that which you are NOT. And that is what it is all about – and why it happens.


The Well Analogy may help in comprehending this prior to knowing it from your own experience. I hope it can help in the meantime. Or you may prefer the man made religions of priestcraft to that which life itself presents us with directly.


Dick Richardson. (2007)

Depth Psychology, Physics and Metaphysics


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[1] A description of my major experiences appeared in my partial EHE autobiography, “The Divine Reality: Transcendent and Immanent” in Exceptional Human Experience, 1995, 13(2), 10-27.