Introduction: Seth on William James and the Affiliations of Consciousness
From The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher: The World View of William James by Jane Roberts
[Note by Gabriel Hartley: As I was reading The Nature of the Psyche: Its Human Expression: A Seth Book by Jane Roberts, I came across the following note opening Session 776: “Our last session, the 775th, was not book dictation. Instead, Seth devoted it to ‘strings of consciousness’—explaining why Jane ‘picked up’ the ‘William James’ material, which is discussed in her book, Psychic Politics” (p. 94). As it turns out, I had already been on the lookout for any discussion of “strings of consciousness” and so was quite disappointed to find this very passage omitted from The Nature of the Psyche as well as from Psychic Politics and the Personal Sessions collection. Related material is presented in both volumes of The “Unknown” Reality, but no Session 775.
Throughout the time I was searching, however, Seth kept telling me to take a look at the William James book, which presents different material than that recorded in Psychic Politics. Each time I looked at the James book, though, I saw that it was not organized into sessions as the Seth books are, so I dismissed this clue out of hand. But two days ago, nudged again by Seth to take a look in the James book, I looked at Seth’s Introduction to the book. I should not have been surprised when I saw that this was the transcript of Session 775 that I had been searching for and that I would have found a few weeks earlier had I taken Seth’s advice seriously the first time. So in any case, here it is for you as well as for me! — October 19, 2016]
May 10, 1976
9:36 P.M. Monday
(”I feel Seth around,” Jane said at 9:33. She laughed. ”On William James, unfortunately. I just got a glimpse of what Seth’s going to say and I thought: ‘Now how are you going to make sense of that?”’
(Jane’s reaction came about because earlier this evening she’d caught herself thinking that she might be reincarnationally related to James an idea that she’d rejected at once. Yet, there was her world-view material on James. Whereupon I suggested that she just forget about it and see what Seth had to say. Not that we hoped she would turn out to be connected to James that idea was just too coincidental for our tastes but it would be interesting to know why she’d found herself thinking along those lines to begin with.
(Seth always refers to Jane as Ruburt and to me as Joseph our entity names.)
(Good evening, Seth.)
Ruburt can attest to his own identity. In ordinary terms, he counts his identity as beginning at the time of his birth in 1929, and he sees it as reaching through to the present. In those terms he has a time history, with letters, mementos, snapshots, and so forth to prove it.
He met you at a certain point in space and time. You both agree upon this and upon the continuity of your two identities; so Ruburt can attest that he is himself.
The true story of consciousness has not been written, for it will always in essence escape such description. In our early sessions I spoke as simply as possible, and yet those sessions also contain in their own way the kernels of much that  appeared later, and that has not yet appeared. Early, I used the term ”fragment personality” simply to give you this idea that identity was not a unit that could be easily defined.
Our later material led even further away from the concept of an easily defined self. All consciousness is interrelated. It flows together in currents, rises and falls, eddies and breaks, mixes and merges. In this great interplay, however, each identity, however brief in usual terms, is neverannihilated. It is indeed inviolate. On the other hand, it can also form affiliations with other identities, for there are psychic formations as there are physical ones. The world has a physical structure that forms its contents. There is a bank of physical elements.
In greater terms, each person’s experience—while privately his or hers—also becomes part of the psychic bank, belonging to the species as a whole, containing within it abilities, attitudes, purposes, and plans. These form a heritage from which each person can draw. This drawing takes place not only before birth, but also at any point during life. You can change in life far more than you suspect, while still retaining the identity that is your own.
(9:54) In some cases you change so much that people knowing you at different times would seem to know and describe entirely different people. The theory of reincarnation is an attempt to see the basic, inviolate, yet many-faceted self in terms that can be understood, and that are in keeping with popular concepts of time. As you yourself, Joseph, have realized on occasion, you are actually “reincarnated” many times in one lifetime.
You leap over your own identities, scarcely noticing, again and again. There are no boundaries or limitations to the self, except those you accept. The miracle of your transformations escapes your crude definitions. (Louder and with amusement:) I am not speaking of your crude definitions, but use the word generally.
(”I understand. Thank you.”)
There are often great challenges to which you respond. You pick these for your own reasons. In doing so, you often change affiliations. In conventional terms, Ruburt was not William James but through Ruburt, certain challenges and purposes left unsatisfied by James have been picked up by  Ruburt; and to that extent a portion of William James’s
consciousness is merged with Ruburt’s.
Again: Ruburt’s identity is his own; but few have dared to look into the true components of identity. Those unanswered questions of James’s happened· to coincide with Ruburt’s own questions at a certain time in Ruburt’s current life—who at that time became attracted to that heritage bank—looking, so to speak, for someone with like interests, backed up by a lifetime of experience.
(To me:) You early recognized the possibilities of such a connection, being drawn to James far before Ruburt’s interests.
Your drives, desires, plans, and purposes, while uniquely yours, also in their way belong to the species as a whole. They are handed down, so to speak, to those who are attuned to them. You pass them on. James, to some extent, now, sees his unanswered questions sifted through another Unique consciousness, so that they are given a different slant. Consciousness, individual consciousness, is many-faceted, and in that respect a portion of James’s consciousness is reflected through Ruburt’s.
(10:16) Ruburt is then given James’s knowledge concerning those questions, as source material, providing references he himself would not ordinarily possess. Consciousness forms and reforms, always, in new combinations, yet in your terms nothing is lost that has gone before.
(A one-minute pause.) There is indeed an ”archaeology” of the self, in which the consciousness of the past and present merge, but this is a far more democratic arrangement, for in your terms the future is also involved, so that in those terms future consciousness and identities are even now being formed from the heritage of your own purposes and desires.
Because you do not catch important transformations that occur in your own life, as retaining your identity you still leap—you will have to put this in quotes also—”from self to self,” so you do not understand how the inner components of consciousness change their ”shapes and forms,” even as the natural elements of the earth form its everchanging face.
(Long pause.) Give us a moment . . . In a way, and using an analogy, the consciousness of any given nation has a shape and form as definite as the contours of the physical land upon which it resides. In those terms, during your lifetimes, a continent retains its form: though trees upon it rise and fall, rocks and stones· are washed away into the oceans, generations are born and die, governments altered, still a man in his lifetime will find the continent generally familiar and intact. Now in your lifetime, you change in the same way that the continent does, while generally finding yourselves familiar and intact. Your identity, while your own, is still a gestalt of consciousnesses that in your terms have come before, or will come in the future. Those other identities, reflected through you, become unique and inviolate. So, however, is your consciousness and identity reflected in all others.
Take your break.
As usual, I caution you that these matters are most difficult to explain.
Consciousness forms patterns of identities. They move faster than the speed of light. They can be in more than one place at one time. They can operate in a freewheeling fashion, as identities in themselves, or as “psychological particles.”
They can also operate in a wavelike fashion, flowing through other such particles. They can form together into endless, infinite combinations, forming psychological gestalts. Certain portions of these gestalts can then operate as psychological particles in time and space, while other portions operate in a wavelike manner outside of time or space.
These represent the unconscious elements of the psyche, which become “particleized” in physical existence.
(Long pause.) Your own purposes, intents, and desires attract to you, so to speak, those other “fragments” of consciousness that mix and match to form your psychological being as, for example, atoms and molecules mix and merge to form your physical being. Your body-is yours, stamped with your own purposes and intents. You are  unaware of the molecular transformations involved as long
as the overall pattern remains familiar and relatively intact.
In a like manner, as long as the contours of your consciousness remain relatively familiar, you do not question their composition. You are not aware of the changes that occur. ln certain terms, then, your identity is a pattern of identification, your stamp set eternally upon the universe—a shape that you recognize, but one that is filled with multitudinous activity, alteration, and change—all of which generally goes on beneath your notice.
In those terms, chunks of your own consciousness have long since fallen away and been used by others, while you still retain your identity, even as rocks are swept away from a continent into the ocean, while still the continent retains its form. In earth’s own time even the continent will change, falling off beneath the waters, or joining with another while still retaining some of its own characteristics, and in those terms carrying with it its previous coloration. So each of you alive changes in like manner, yet you carry the mark of your identity, and that is inviolate.
(11:18) Bits of your consciousnesses, Joseph and Ruburt, go out through these books. I am not speaking symbolically. These portions will mix with the consciousnesses of others. Portions of your intent and purpose become theirs.
My own psychological reality is not particleized. My identity includes the identities of many others. Each of them operates in his own fashion. In those terms, I am a wave formation. More specifically, however, and to a lesser degree, each physical person operates partially as a particleized being and partially in terms of a wave. But identity, being itself inviolate, is on the other hand everchanging—and there is, in the larger system of reality, no contradiction.
The great men and women, historically speaking, serve as psychic models, throwing into the physical realm explosive bursts of desires, purposes, abilities, plans, and intents that cannot be satisfied by any one person in any one lifetime, however heroic their performance.
These, then, serve as impetuses to others, but no-desire and no intent exists by itself alone, only by virtue of the identity that holds it, so an identity explodes outward from itself in all directions, showering portions of itself which are  used by others so attracted. Each identity is itself and no other; and yet it is composed of myriad fragments of other identities.
Take your break.
(11:32-11:51) Now: James’s ‘consciousness is to some extent, then, reflected through Ruburt’s, shining with a different cast, and henceforth forming a new combination—one that is original and represents a new creative world view.
In this combination A or gestalt, Ruburt’s identity predominates, so that James provides Rubert with one other focus through which to view reality. At other levels, James as himself predominates in another kind of existence. In your world, your quite conscious desires and intents attract the components of your consciousness. There is never, for example, any kind of invasion or possession in conventional terms. It is in fact, impossible for one consciousness to possess another.
Each identity possesses an integrity that will not allow any affiliation of which it does not approve. Using an analogy, psythological antibodies are far more potent than physical ones. The self or identity quite literally closes its boundaries to any forces that do not follow its own purposes and intents. There are no exceptions.
This integrity allows the identity always to maintain its own pattern or mark, permitting within its peripheries only those affiliations that serve its unique purposes. In those terms, the self or identity cannot be defiled. Here I would like to add a brief side note having to do with cases of apparent “brainwashing,” in times of war, for example.
You form your own reality. Those captured in such encounters, therefore, are captured because they are already operating in a system of beliefs that does suit their greater purposes. This subject, is highly complicated. Perhaps someday we can pursue it. But in any case, the so-called brainwashing suits the purposes of those so treated. This does not mean that no sympathy should be granted them. A really close examination of their conscious beliefs and purposes, however, would show an acquiescence and acceptance of such experience, and a need for it to occur.
End of session. I bid you a fond good evening.
(“Thank you, Seth. The same to you.” 12:10 A.M.)