How We Think

Introduction to How We Think

Current understanding of how we think is shedding important light on how we might seek to improve ourselves, our psi functioning and our relationship with the community. As it turns out, the body-centric perspective of I think I am this is simply not supported by current research. New thought is leading to a more dynamic perspective in which consciousness is seen as a product of attention and expression as a function of intention. These are etheric rather than physical in nature, suggesting that understanding the etheric personality-centric perspective might show how to consciously access the true I am this nature of who we really are. This essay provides an introduction to this new thought.

First, it is important that you understand that even though I use a few psychological and parapsychological terms, I am neither psychologist nor parapsychologist. As an engineer, I tend to maintain a pragmatic approach to modeling and often focus on different concepts than you might expect from more academically trained people, so please don’t tell your parapsychologist friends that “Tom said so.”


Most of the terms I use are intended as they are commonly used, but there are a few for which a more obscure definition is intended. A full glossary of the terms I use for these essays can be found at

Refer to the Conditional Free Will (8) Essay for an overview of the model for mind I use. A more thorough explanation is included in Your Immortal Self. A brief description of each functional area is included in this essay. I tend to describe them a little differently each time and the different approach might help you understand.

About Spirit-Related Terms

Here, I am careful to avoid religious connotation, but some terms common to religion are too useful to ignore.

Spirit: Saying that someone is in spirit is the same as saying they are in the etheric. Considering the Implicit Cosmology and the anatomy of a life field, (8)  I would refer to a discarnate personality (sometimes, a ghost) as a personality or conscious self rather than a spirit.

The formative personalities sometimes referred to as devas are also sometimes referred to as nature spirits. Considering the anatomy of a life field, it is probably better to think of these personalities as just like you and me, but with different intention and from different collectives. As such, I prefer to address their function rather than thinking of them as a special form of personality.

Spiritual: Spiritual relates to the high ideals often associated with being very religious. In my writing, spiritual is intended in a more objective sense of understanding rather than believing. Thus, I say spiritual maturity, meaning the development of understanding about the nature of reality.

Spirituality: Spirituality is the point of view associated with seeking to gain spiritual maturity. It is also the state of spiritual maturity.

Personality: Personality is the immortal part of who we are; our intelligent core. In this model, there is personality, unconscious self and conscious self. When entangled with an avatar, there is also the avatar’s body consciousness.

Worldview: A thoughtform (etheric field) that functions as a database of sorts. It holds our beliefs and understanding which represents (determines) the nature of our personal reality. This model assumes we are born with only a degree of conceptual understanding and an urge to gain further understanding, both inherit from our personality. See the Prime Imperative Essay

As shown in the Functional Areas for Perception Diagram below, worldview represents the standard by which the output of the Perceptual Loop is determined. In effect, it determines what the conscious self is able to consciously experience. Worldview is functionally situated between the Attention Complex and Personality. Even though Personality represents the life field’s intelligent core, its ability to experience the physical is limited by worldview.



In an avatar relationship (a lifetime), worldview is populated with the body’s instincts as well. The avatar influence appears to be dominant in the first few years of a lifetime. Part of the maturation process toward adulthood is the increasing influence of inherited spiritual instincts and prior understanding.

Perception and Expression: Perception produces external expression. The output of the Perceptual Loop may be conscious awareness of something, a decision to act or an ideoplastic formation (expression) of our perceived reality. Basically, Expression represents unconscious thought coming to conscious awareness based on how it is perceived in the Perceptual Loop. In a way, it is the etheric-to-physical interface. Expression is the function by which we make the world as our personal reality.

The Ideo- prefix means idea or image. Ideoplastic is used here to mean the nature of objects formed in the creative process as mind to object expression.

In the Implicit Cosmology, all of our expressions are thoughtforms. We assign physicality to some of them and dream-like qualities to others. The expression and expression processes are the same in the Attention Complex (mind). The difference is in conscious self’s intention. In either case, the Attention Complex submits the visualized result to conscious self in the manner of “This is what I said” or “This is what I hear.”

Attention Limiter: Both psi and physical information sensed from the environment are filtered, depending on whether or not it is of interest to us. We are presumably immersed in a huge amount of psi and physical stimuli and this process helps to enable the Perceptual Loop to focus on more important input. In terms of digital data, think of this as the router interface: if the Attention Complex is not addressed, it is ignored.

Perceptual Loop: A process in which stimuli are translated into awareness … or rejected. This is a streaming process in which:

  • Information from the environment is visualized, compared to worldview, and if there is no recognition, it is rejected and the conscious self does not become aware of the information.
  • The information is visualized, compared to worldview, and if familiar, it may be modified for repeat visualization. The visualized image will likely pass through the loop several times to be modified to agree with worldview or rejected.
  • If it is a good match with worldview (personal sense of what is real), it is accepted and sent to the perception function and will be consciously experienced.
  • If the Perceptual Loop produces a maybe or ambiguous result, it is accepted and sent to the perception function and allowed to change worldview.

It is important in cosmology to identify a mechanism by which evolution may occur. Rupert Sheldrake’s Hypothesis of Formative Causation includes provisions for creative solutions to evolve nature’s habit..2 In the Implicit Cosmology, an ambiguous result of the Perceptual Loop evolves worldview. Thus, we can see that a small change or a little newness is more apt to cause learning than will a dramatic change.

Attention Complex: This represents the mostly unconscious mind. Personality has individual awareness which is limited to its etheric environment and what is available from its collective. It also accesses worldview. This information access is also limited by what it is able to comprehend (perceptual agreement limited by worldview).

Conscious self is our outward sense of I think I am this and I live in this world. Access to personality and the collective is via the Attention Matrix.

Attention is the first element of the creative process and fundamental to life, and as such, this unconscious functional area is an automatic process in a similar way that the physical body has autonomic processes controlling such functions as breathing. Both personality and avatar share this functional area. See: Lucidity below

Lucidity: The concept of consciousness has little meaning if talking about the person as an etheric personality. A more appropriate term is lucidity in the sense of a clear and open channel of awareness between the I think I am this (conscious self) and the true I am this intelligent core (personality). See section on lucidity below.

How We Think

It is a pretty bold statement to say, “this is how we think,” but whether or not this model is technically correct, it is a very useful one for understanding our spirituality and how we experience the subtle energies around us. Learning to integrate this model into our daily thinking gives us important tools for improving our intuitive sense and helps us place our feet more firmly on the path toward mindfulness.


The Functional Areas for Perception Diagram (above) provides a block diagram of how we think based on the most current science I can find. All of the functional areas are in the etheric and are better thought of as nonphysical fields which are bound by attention into a system. As such, the Attention Complex represents our unconscious mind.Important features to note in the diagram include:

Here are a few of the consequences posed by the diagram:

  • Mind is nonphysical in the etheric aspect of reality. In the etheric, everywhere is here, so that an apparent change in location is actually just a change in perception.
  • Conscious self is also nonphysical. When in an avatar relationship with a human body, everything we know about the physical world comes to us by way of our body’s five senses. That information is first processed by our mind which sends it to our consious self after it is changed to agree with Worldview. That which we think of as conscious perception by way of our five physical senses is actually second-hand information.
  • All environmental signals are psi signals. The body’s five senses are just another environmental signal. We think the brain acts as a biological-to-etheric signal converter. The mind translates the psi signals in terms of what is expected and familiar and submits that information to conscious self. Again, if it comes from the body, it is characterized in terms of physical space.
  • Other conscious selves communicate with us by way of the Attention Complex. In the case of remote viewing, for instance, we see what other conscious selves are registering as physical.
  • The Perceptual loop is a streaming process so that environmental information is continuously sampled. The effect is evolving perception as more information becomes available. In dreams, this may explain stream of thought dreams in which one moment suggests the next but does not always produce a logical experience.

First Sight Theory

(Use discernment here. I am explaining this theory as I understand Carpenter’s rather complex writing.)

James Carpenter has proposed an important hypothesis he refers to as First Sight Theory. (3) He explains that people first sense the world psychically. As he puts it: “What if ESP is like subliminal perception? What if psychokinesis is like unconsciously but psychologically meaningful expressive behaviors?”

He answers these questions by proposing two propositions based on the assumption that: (paraphrasing) everything and everyone, every action in the past, now or in the future, perturbs the subtle energy space that connects all of us. Carpenter argues that research indicates people psychically sense these changes in psi space just as they physically sense changes in physical space.

By “research indicates” I am saying that Carpenter based his theory on meta-analysis and personal research concerning hundreds of research reports—both mainstream and parapsychological.

According to Carpenter, if that is true, then: (still paraphrasing)

First, people sense their environment psychically as well as with their physical senses.

Second, people process this information unconsciously, and it is the conclusion of this processing that they are aware of and react to … not what has been psychically or physically sensed or unconsciously considered. A person might psychically sense someone near or far, a person’s actions and apparently their thoughts when they are expressed as intention.

Note 1: In this theory, the expression of intention is what produces a change in psi space which can be sensed by others. Simply thinking of something does not appear to produce information which is detectable by others.

Note 2:
The result of the unconscious perceptual process is described as formatting of “experience and action.” This is the perception functional area in the Functional Areas of Perception diagram (above). In this context, the person does not directly experience information from the environment. Instead, the person becomes aware of the information after it is formatted in a way that agrees with worldview.

Carpenter proposes thirteen corollaries which amount to a decision tree defining the Perceptual Loop in the above Perception Diagram. I will spare you the list here, but it may be useful for you to read the Perception Essay at

The diagrams here are intended to reflect the essence of Carpenter’s theory, but as modified based on other parapsychological literature and lessons learned from transcommunication (mediumship (physical, mental, trance-channel) and Instrumental TransCommunication which includes EVP). The concepts are presented as a cosmology at The application of these concepts is described in the Mindfulness essay at

Implications of Unconscious Preprocessing

If the above information is reasonably correct, then our conscious self (mind), the I think I am this part of who we are, and what we sense around us, are the product of unconscious processes of which we have only indirect control. This means that we sense a lot more about our environment than that sensed with our five physical senses. In fact, we are likely psi sensing stimuli much before our physical sensing.

Paying Attention

If we do not care about something, if it is uninteresting, then it will likely be unconsciously ignored. Of course, our body is constantly watching for survival related input, so anything potentially scary, good to eat, sexual or related to territory will be first unconsciously reacted to, and if persistent, will enter conscious awareness. For instance, adrenalin may flow in our system some time before we become consciously aware of a looming threat.

An assumption of this model is that we are born with an urge to gain understanding. (9) In effect, that is a spiritual instinct; however, contrary to body instincts which compel the human to act, it appears we must consciously decide to respond to the urge to gain understanding. It may be possible to live a lifetime without responding to our spiritual urges. However, it has been my experience that ignoring them can result in a sort of restlessness as if our friends in spirit sometimes coax us to pay attention.

This is not a matter of self-determination (free will). It is a matter of finally gaining sufficient presence of mind to realize there is a need. Yes, we are urged to act in small ways, but seldom in a way that leads to conscious pursuit of spiritual maturity. One way we can take conscious control of our progression is by learning to pay attention to our world with the intention of gaining understanding. It is the expression of intention that counts.

In the ancient wisdom of the Cabala, the Great Work consists of transmuting the relatively immature mind (lead), into a more mature mind (gold).4 One of the techniques for teaching this is to teach the seeker to learn as much as possible about everything. Learn to pay attention!

Here, I should add the wisdom of detachment. It is important to be interested in what is happening around us but not to be attached to the outcome. Be open to unexpected possibilities. This translates as suspended judgment when witnessing things paranormal. Avoid expecting immediate understanding. The mind will try to shape what is being observed into something familiar, so not needing immediate understanding teaches the unconscious mind to allow what is observed to unfold naturally. The same goes for creating an intended reality. Seek an outcome but remain open for unexpected results.

Worldview Can Be Taught

Like a mental database, our worldview is filled by family, teachers, schools, church, and probably most importantly, the media. A red flag concept in mindfulness is that we share this worldview with our human avatar. At birth, it is mostly the instincts of our human that governs our behavior. Maturing means learning to moderate the influence of these instincts with understanding. Still, there are people who are mostly controlled by their host. It takes a community because we are not born already understanding how to become a good citizen. It is taught.

It is common to know people who are ostensibly like-minded, but who report rather different experiences from a shared event. This is mostly because of different worldviews, so that for example, a person with a strong orthodox religious upbringing tends to experience or interpret phenomena with religious overtones while a Spiritualist is more apt to see the same phenomena in terms of interaction with their friends on the other side. Some people see spirits everywhere while others see Natural Law at work.

Interestingly, none of these points of view are necessarily correct, as each is based on a combination of good sense and belief. If we normalize those beliefs by translating them into fundamental concepts, it is often evident that the beliefs are of the same concepts, only with rather different attribution. For instance, if we let Jesus be a wayshower instead of a savior and let God be the reality field rather than a father sitting in judgment, then the common characteristics become more evident. Angels, guides, loved ones, inner teachers and devic entities all present themselves to our unconscious in much the same way. How they emerge into our conscious mind is determined by how we have been taught to look for them.


Since ancient times, observers of human behavior have noted that people tend to fit into personality types or styles of behavior that govern how they interact with the world. This concept is illustrated in the personality characteristics described in some systems of thought. In a study of corporate personnel interactions, four temperaments (styles) were identified, and which have subsequently become something of an industry standard:5

Analytical: Thinking, thorough, disciplined
Amiable: Supportive, patient, diplomatic
Driver: Independent, decisive, determined
Expressive: Good communicator, enthusiastic, imaginative

These temperaments are further divided so that one might be an Analytical-Driver or an Amiable-Expressive. Models like this help to predict how a person will react to a situation.

The personality traits described in astrology provides a second look at how people tend to approach reality. The idea of astrology is that behavior is influenced by the astrological conditions at the time of birth. While there may be some empirical evidences that the position of the planets, especially the sun and moon, may have an influence on the body, there is strong evidence that season has a lot to do with activating regions of DNA. There is also the concept of morphic fields (morphogenesis) and the organizing influence of nature’s habit which is hypothesized to go toward setting traits.2

It is important to note that personality styles and astrology are not being recommended here. They are used to demonstrate that people are known to display behavioral traits that are evident at a very young age and which tend to shape their lives.

Mind and Body Predisposition

This essay is really all about changing from a body-centric point of view to a personality-centric one. Since we are essentially born with mind-body thinking, it is difficult to change our thinking to mind separate from body.

One tool that will help this change in perspective is to decide which of the four temperaments and astrological signs best fits how we identify ourselves. Then, contemplate on the implications of how each is described. You will notice that the temperaments tend to describe your rational nature while the astrological characteristics tend to describe your instinctual nature.

Lacking good leadership from psychological research based on a personality-centric model, it is necessary to speculate, but an educated guess leads me to think that the traits related to astrology are for the body. Our body with its formative script of DNA is evolved in the physical and the astrological traits are almost entirely directed toward physical-oriented behavior. In the same sense, personality evolves in the conceptual aspect of reality. The temperaments are specifically conceptual.

Your objective is to first, learn to distinguish your body’s instincts from your spiritual instincts, and then learn to manage your body’s influence on your worldview. The temperaments and astrological signs are a good place to begin dividing up what is yours and what belongs to your human host. Also, it is important to remember that the middle way (balance) applies to you and your avatar host.


Working with Worldview, the Perceptual Loop acts as a filter to restrict what part of the raw psi input becomes available to the conscious self. Learning to manage this process is important in developing a clear channel between conscious self and etheric personality. A person who demonstrates psychic ability is seen as one who is able to sense more of the Perceptual Loop process than the average person. This ability is referred to as lucidity.

The threshold between unconscious and conscious awareness is referred to a liminal. According to Carpenter’s last two First Sight Theory corollaries:

Based on the Inadvertency and Frustration Corollary:

Information gathered via psi is not available to conscious experience but does contribute to the formation of conscious experience by the arousal of anticipatory networks of ideas and feelings (assuming that they are heavily weighted, afforded slow switching and approached with the intention of assimilation). Because of this arousal, their action can be glimpsed consciously only by observing thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are inadvertent; that is, not intentional and not obviously caused by any current experiences. Someone who has become skillful in interpreting them is thought of as relatively psychic.

Based on the Liminality Corollary:

The arousal of anticipatory networks of ideas and feelings resulting from unconscious psi information may be considered liminal ones, in terms of the boundary between conscious and unconscious thought. Habitual interest in liminal experiences facilitates expression of psi processes (openness), leading to unconscious reference to psi material (and other streams of unconscious material). A more positive, open, secure state of mind will tend to facilitate reference to a broader spectrum of contextual, potentially liminal experience. In other words, habitually paying attention to subtle information emerging from your unconscious can lead to more direct awareness of what has been psychically sensed from psi space.

This means that a person wishing to develop psychic ability should learn to focus on inner thoughts, think what is sensed is potentially useful and expect more information. It is important to note here that no distinction is made between mediumship and psychic functioning. From the perspective of perception, the mechanism of transcommunication is the same and only the attribution is different. That is the theory.

I like the meditation in which I mentally stand at the opening of a vast cave. The world full of light and solidity is before me, while fragments of thoughts flitter toward me out of the cave, as if they are butterflies. I turn to face them, and as each thought comes, I briefly attempt to make sense of it, before sending it back into the cave. I mentally follow the thoughts that are especially interesting, deep into the cave, seeking to understand their source.

It is the source I am most interested in, and as I seek to visualize that from the temperament side and not the astrological side, I intend that my unconscious mind will learn what is important and what is not, based on reason and not on habit.Lucidity

Information from our friends on the other side comes to us via a mind-to-mind exchange by way of our Attention Complex. As illustrated in the Lucidity Diagram above, information from the etheric is still filtered by worldview, but that filtering is moderated by understanding so that greater understanding results in greater lucidity. Ideally, the experiencer (conscious self) learns to sense the difference between that which is cultural contamination and that which is from the environment. For me, it is often the surprise factor that hints of something outside of my musing.


Hyperlucidity is marked by the tendency to find phenomena everywhere despite considerable testimony to the contrary by peers. The concept is adapted from occasional reports of odd behavior exhibited by some people when they visit an emotionally charged place (Paris Syndrome, Jerusalem Syndrome) or experience great beauty (Stendhal Syndrome).6, 7

In the Hyperlucidity diagram, the experiencer (conscious self) imagines what is being perceived to be from transcommunicators while in fact it is just from the environment or internal mental musing guided by cultural teaching.Hyperlucidity

The key to understanding hyperlucidity is to look for hints of magical thinking. If a person thinks ability comes upon them as if as a gift, rather than by way of study and practice, then an observer should first look for the objective evidence. If that is available, the next question concerns the validity of that evidence. Can it be independently experienced?

As a general rule, something reported as objective evidence should be able to be experienced by more than one person.

This concept provides a possible explanation for the abundance of not so evidential evidence displayed on the Internet. From personal experience, I know that mental mediums can be very evidential, but it takes practice to learn to distinguish between mental preconception and thought emerging from personality. One of my favorite talks given in our Spiritualist Society was by Steve Crow, titled “You have to do the work.” A person tending toward hyperlucidity is typically one who first comes to these phenomena as an expert.

This his is a difficult concept because there may be a tendency to use it as an argument against the existence of transcommunication. Instead, hyperlucidity should be looked at as an enthusiastic approach to the study of things paranormal that is not balanced by discernment and education about the subject. As a behavior, it will eventually moderate as the person become better informed.


This essay rather briefly covers a lot of material. While much of it may be new to you, even contrary to what you have learned, it is supported by quite a lot of solid research by many very knowledgeable people.

Psi field, psi functioning and first sight are concepts that may well initiate a global mind change. It is for you to decide whether or not you are willing to join the early adopters on the path of mindfulness in the pursuit of greater lucidity. The way is not easy but reward comes early.

The Way of Progression
Through community comes knowledge
Through teaching comes understanding
It takes a collective

Take advantage of opportunities to discuss these concepts. Doing so helps their integration into your worldview. What you have to say is important because sharing your unique perspective, observations and experiences will help the rest of us.


  1. Butler, Tom. “Implicit Cosmology.” Etheric Studies. 2014.
  2. Sheldrake, Rupert. “Morphic Resonance and Morphic Fields.” Rupert Sheldrake Biologist and Author.
  3. Carpenter, James C. First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4422-1392-0.
  4. Website: “Instructions for the Great Work are embodied in the Tarot.” See: B.O.T.A.
  5. Merrill, David W. and Reid, Roger H. Personal Styles and Effective Performance. Chilton Book Company. 1981.
  6. Miller, Glenn M.D. “Voyager Syndrome.”
  7. Nashawaty, Chris. “The Jerusalem Syndrome: Why Some Religious Tourists Believe They Are the Messiah.” Wired Magazine. 2/17/2012,
  8. Butler, Tom. “Conditional Free Will.” Etheric Studies. 2017.
  9. Butler, Tom. “Prime Imperative.” Etheric Studies. 2017.

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