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Observations placeholder

Tholey, Paul and LaBerge, Stephen - Effects of Destroying the Ego Core



Type of Spiritual Experience


I = Higher spirit

Ego-core = personality

A description of the experience

Conversation Between Stephen LaBerge and Paul Tholey in July of 1989  - STEPHEN LABERGE, PAUL THOLEY, and BRIGITTE HOLZINGER (Editor)

Effects of Destroying the Ego Core

LaBerge: I am familiar with your basic procedure—the idea of integration through facing threatening figures and resolving conflicts. Up to this point you have discussed splitting the dream body in pieces and abstracting the dream-ego point, and then you alluded to something, yesterday, about destroying the self, the ego point, the ego core. I would like to understand better exactly how this process is accomplished and how you understand the theoretical basis for it.

Tholey: This can be a very unpleasant or a very pleasant state. It can be very pleasant, when the "I" becomes one with the cosmos. Then there is one world, a cosmos, a phenomenal world, and the self belongs to that. By then, the I can’t be distinguished as a piece apart. Now our cosmos is one piece, identical with the self (I).

LaBerge: So what about the theory and practice?

Tholey: It can be done, for example, by immersing the ego-core or the dream-body in fire, the dream fire. This is nothing new. Some time ago I thought it was new, but something like this has been practiced by shamans, yet for us it was a new thing. This can be very unpleasant because it leads to a total dissolving of the I. On the one hand, the ego becomes inflated and, on the other hand, it disappears.

LaBerge: Yes, like in Tibetan dream yoga. Take the dream-body into the fire and the dream-body disappears. But there is still the ego-core.

Tholey: Sometimes it happens that you actually lose the ego-core completely. There is no point of view anymore from which to look or think. There is only seeing left; thinking without any difference between the object and the subject—no difference whatsoever between the object and the subject.

LaBerge: This sounds like a dream that I described in my book, a dream in which I decided that I wanted to experience the highest potential in me. I flew up into the clouds, without any other intention than that. My dream-body disappeared and yet I still existed, in a sense. I could sing, for example, although I had no mouth. Yet I had the sense of a unity with the space. There wasn’t an I there, yet there was still something I would call a perspective.

Tholey: In the state I am talking about, the perspective is gone. There is the state with one perspective and there is the state with two perspectives. This is hard to imagine in the waking state. There also is the state of seeing without a subject, without the ego-core and without seeing. There isn’t anybody who sings anymore, but something like a singing entity.

LaBerge: Yes, that was exactly the experience! Because, when I woke up and thought about what the words were I had been singing: "I praise Thee, oh Lord," I thought—but there was no I—there was no Thee—Thee praised Thee, perhaps. So I think I know the state you are talking about. The way I got to that, you see, wasn’t by any action of the dream-body. It was instead deeper than the intellectual intention to transcend.

Tholey: There is no action by itself, so that there is nobody who acts, it is much rather acting. There is no way to express that in Western languages because there is always a subject and predicate—it is much rather a Doing, an Acting, like singing or whatever—no subject, no object.

LaBerge: That is the same state I am talking about, the space was an infinite emptiness, filled with potential. But, in any case, I am interested in the method. I’ve wondered and thought about the possible consequences of cutting the body in various fragments. Given both the fact that there are studies demonstrating that people with psychosomatic conditions, who have experienced trauma in their dreams, will have psychosomatic problems—and given our own studies on these relationships, I’m uncertain about the wisdom of this and I’d like to see what you think about it. There is an article by Harold Levitan in which he describes case-studies, for example, of someone being stabbed in the stomach in a dream who later developed an ulcer. Now, the question is, of course, could this be some sort of prodromic syndrome or could it be that the trauma in the dream could have had a physiological effect—just as we have found in our research: a strong relationship?

Tholey: We have a group of ten or twelve lucid dreamers in Frankfurt that meets every two weeks or so and do experiments just like this. These experiments lead very often to negative effects, like aggressions towards dream figures, cutting the body and fear. We know this fact very well. First of all, all the experiments we do are dangerous. We know about the danger. We are pioneers and we know that this is dangerous. Secondly, we believe that there is nothing more psychosomatic than dream experiments, not even imagination. We also believe that these experiments might lead to psychosomatic disorders. Therefore we have not yet published the experiments about burning in fire.

LaBerge: It seems there are probably some people that the technique is good for. Others I don’t know. In fact, for NightLight we are interested in techniques that we can offer to a broad audience.

Tholey: These are the techniques we are trying to check now, but there are many more techniques. We check and publish despite the knowledge that dangers will emerge. We have to know it first, though. If we don’t publish, somebody else will, like occultists and charlatans. Therefore it seems to me to be very important to take these border areas into account as well, because they aim for the essence, the inner part of the psyche. If it weren’t for that, they wouldn’t be dangerous.

LaBerge: Yes, and people fall into them anyway.

The source of the experience

Tholey, Paul

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Ego inflation

Activities and commonsteps



Dreaming and lucid dreaming


Lucid dreaming