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The Natural Trajectory of Human Consciousness


Worth reading 😎

Stories take readers through realms of dreams, the subconscious, and altered states of mind in search of the essential nature of reality.

Observation: A book that postulates the existence of transcendent realities accessible through altered states of consciousness is beyond the scope of any mortal review.

Perhaps so. “The Natural Trajectory of Human Consciousness” by William W. Chan starts with a prologue, in which the author likens being born to awakening from deep sleep, because each involves a return to consciousness. Further, he asserts that “…there is something that remains unmoved. It’s as though the unmoved is the dreamer. The rest, all feelings and sense of self, are the stuff of dreams.” Accordingly, in this book dreams and waking events are intertwined, and characters routinely experience weird transitions from one state of being to another.

These “ten speculative stories” offer alternative visions of cognitive reality. Chan introduces each piece with an “observation” of some principle illustrated therein, such as: “The body is the deepest and most pervasive of all illusions.” The stories are thus more like parables, and the characters function like symbols of some ontological principle rather than fully realized human beings.

For example, in “Naked Awareness,” Suen, a prostitute, hears a baby speaking to her while watching TV, murders the man sleeping next to her, encounters a giant rabbit, then goes out for ice cream, all en route to achieving an epiphany that “her mind… had been stripped bare by hardship and deprivation, leaving behind nothing but shining awareness.” Far out, eh?

Within the scenarios, dreams bleed into reality and mundane events trigger bizarre psychedelic experiences, so mental barriers between the conscious and unconscious mind are blurred beyond distinction. These narratives take readers on metaphysical journeys worthy of the most surreal Carlos Castaneda novel or David Lynch movie.

For as long as homo sapiens have existed, the phenomenon of dreaming has exerted a profound psychological influence over cultures. “Natural Trajectory” often refers to religious and philosophical concepts from various traditions. These allusions are compelling, although fleeting; they’d benefit from greater development. Didn’t Buddha already say these things?

There’s probably no middle ground for this book. Whereas some readers of “Natural Trajectory” will embrace esoteric revelations that stimulate deeper thought, others will scoff at what they see as nothing more than superficial mumbo jumbo. Those of the former persuasion will revel in this book’s heady metaphysics and spend hours thinking about it. The others will dismiss it as nothing deeper than trippy mind games. May this book find its right readers.

Reviewed by

Gregg Sapp is author of the “Holidazed” satires. To date, six titles have been released: “Halloween from the Other Side,” “The Christmas Donut Revolution,” “Upside Down Independence Day,” “Murder by Valentine Candy," "Thanksgiving Thanksgotten Thanksgone," and the latest, "New Year's Eve, 1999."

Dreams of Life and Death

About the author

For many years, William W. Chan worked in the security office of a local school board and wrote stories on the side. Prior to that, he was editor or writer at several trade magazines in Asia, primarily concerned with laws and shipping. He is now retired and lives in Alberta with his wife and son. view profile

Published on May 15, 2020

Published by

40000 words

Genre: Literary Fiction

Reviewed by