A C.I.A. report that has been declassified since 2003 on “the Gateway Experience,” a technique for altering consciousness, has gone semi-viral. Why is a document that’s been open to the public for 18 years suddenly a topic of conversation? The same reason all great things are—TikTok!
TikTok has become a resource for young people to shed light on issues and get their peers talking about “discoveries,” as in anything that has been around since before 2016.
The power of uncovering information on TikTok is unlike anything I’ve experienced. For example, it once caused a shortage of CeraVe skin-care products—usually drugstore staples—after it became a favorite on beauty Tok in 2019. Tiktok also got the song “How Bizarre,” by 90s music duo OMC, onto my Spotify playlist this summer after it became the go-to background for a trend where users would make light of little white lies they’d told (white lies told usually to hide embarrassing facts, but embarrassing facts are cool to share when they help you receive clout). Totally bizarre.
#GatewayExperienceTok was actually a thing eight months ago, but my algorithm kept it from me until this week, which I can now only assume is some kind of telepathic message.
In the 1983 report, which came after the C.I.A.’s investigation into the Gateway Experience, the spy agency claims participants in its study could move “outside the physical sphere so as to ultimately escape even the restrictions of time and space,” and also gain “access to the various levels of intuitive knowledge which the universe offers.”
According to U.S. Army lieutenant colonel Wayne M. McDonnell, who helmed the study, this was achieved by “a training system designed to bring enhanced strength, focus, and coherence to the amplitude and frequency of brainwave output … to alter consciousness.”
The best I, as a person who has failed almost every science class she’s ever taken, can do to simplify this is to say that the C.I.A. believed that, through these techniques, humans are capable of healing their own body, traveling across time and space to access new information, hypnosis (isn’t this what Sirhan Sirhan says happened to him?), and more.
All of these are possibilities that excite me—except one.
If the C.I.A.’s Gateway Experience findings are to be believed, humans are also capable of manifestation. Through Transcendental Meditation and reaching an alternate state of consciousness, manifestations can become reality.
My algorithm kept #GatewayExperienceTok from me until this week, which I can now only assume is because of some kind of telepathic message.
There have been too many times when I have accurately anticipated events that are so ironic, so specific, and so embarrassing that I worry they happened because only a sick, depraved mind like mine could will them into existence. Still, I convinced myself that my social nightmares’ materializing was mere coincidence and that my negative outlook had no real consequences outside of being a buzzkill, or making myself sick from stress. I took comfort in that.
You can imagine the downward spiral that ensues when a chronic pessimist discovers scientific proof that we can create our own reality.
If our thoughts have influence, then have I made it a reality that I’m an embarrassing loser by constantly thinking about how much of an embarrassing loser I am? Will dreading my father’s death on a near daily basis prematurely kill him? Is it possible people hate me because I’ve put so much energy into the fear of people hating me? Or is it because I’m actually an intolerable being? Would I rather people hated me because I manifested it or because they just do it on their own accord? These are just a few of the existential questions that have kept me up at night thanks to #GatewayExperienceTok.
So I began to try to manifest things I do want, the way the Gateway Experience maps out—sending an intention out into the universe as if it’s already fact, such as “I deeply believe I have perfect skin and am 19.” But the universe isn’t buying any of it. They know I don’t believe anything that isn’t bad.
Will dreading my father’s death on a near daily basis prematurely kill him?
Instead I’ve subjected myself to an endless trip down memory lane analyzing every failure and disappointment in my life thus far, deliberating which ones could have happened because I expected the worst-case scenario and which ones just happened.
I have since concluded that there are multiple couples who have dated simply because I worried they would. I’d like to reach out to them and say, “Just want you guys to know the only reason you’re dating is because of me. You’re welcome.”
For my entire life, my sister has had an obsession with scent. When we were little, she would sniff every article of clothing that went into the wash, and then again when it came out of the dryer, one by one, even though they all likely had the exact same smell of detergent.
The best I, as a person who has failed almost every science class she’s ever taken, can do to simplify this is to say that the C.I.A. believed that, through these techniques, humans are capable of healing their own body and more.
Everything was worthy of being inhaled, like whippets, and every smell had to be commented on. “The trash smells bad,” she’d say. “Yeah, it’s trash!,” I’d reply.
It wouldn’t matter if my crush was over, she’d storm into my room with a shirt I’d borrowed and scream, “Cazzie, you made my shirt smell like B.O.!” “Why are you smelling it?!,” I’d reply.
It’s been almost a year since my sister lost all sense of smell due to the coronavirus. It’s not exactly like I made a wish that ended up coming true. I would never wish for something that horrible. But did I have a lifelong desire for my sister to stop making constant commentary on the state of the world’s scents? Yes. Do I think I accidentally manifested this after reading about the Gateway Experience and am now riddled with guilt? Obviously.
Since coming across these TikToks, I fear every thought I have will come true, and now I literally don’t know what to think. How was I supposed to know that the ridiculous things people who collect crystals say, like “The energy you put into the world is what you get back!,” are true?
What would be more helpful for me is if the C.I.A. did testing on how to acquire an entirely new personality. Honestly, any research at all about what manifestation means for pessimists would be nice, because right now it’s looking like I’m screwed.
In the meantime, I will keep trying to focus on the absolute facts that I am a goddess, that we will all live forever, that everyone respects me, and that all my dreams will come true.
Cazzie David is a columnist for AIR MAIL and the author of No One Asked for This