Is That a High-tech Guru in the Mirror?

Suddenly, almost overnight, I and the inventors of the devices I had mentioned in the book were deluged with thousands of letters from people beseeching us for information about where they could try them, where they could buy one for themselves. I asked a few of the inventors to bring their devices to what I envisioned would be a small “Mega brain party” in a loft in Manhattan, and I arrived to find the place jammed with news reporters, video cameras, and hundreds of people excitedly trying the various machines. A few weeks later I attended a similar low-key party at a warehouse in Los Angeles, and with no publicity except word of mouth, over a thousand people showed up, from places as distant as Thailand, Japan, and Germany, and from all over the United States and Canada. They stood in long lines in hopes of getting a few minutes on one or another of the mind machines. There seemed to be a lot of people who were hungry for mind machines.

I had ended Megabrain with a tongue-in-check vision of “Brain Gyms,” sleek spas furnished with brain machines where people would come to exercise their brains. But reality quickly outstripped my imagination. Within months actual brain gyms were opening up in cities across the country and, as the book was published in other languages, in cities around the world. Suddenly articles in national newsmagazines and features on network TV were showing pictures of rows of people blissfully laid out in brain gyms, lights flickering in their eyes.

The book seemed to trigger a worldwide explosion of interest in mind machines. Reporters and newsmagazines described it as “the bible of the brain machine movement” and “the book that spawned the revolution.” I became known in the media as the “leading exponent” and “chief spokesman,” of mind machines, “the high-tech guru of the mind-machine revolution.”

Yet I didn’t feel like an exponent or spokesman, and I knew I was no guru. Something in me jeered and remained skeptical. The idea of a “movement” or a “mind-machine revolution” made me distinctly uneasy—the experiences I described in the book were mine alone, intensely personal, not the common or shared experiences of a mass movement. No doubt, the machines had interesting effects for me. But may be I was just highly susceptible to them—or just the victim of the placebo effect and my own expectations. It was hard to believe these devices could really have the same effects on thousands of other people that they seemed to have for me.

But the evidence poured in. The paperback edition of Megabrain appeared with my own address in the back, and in a matter of months I was swamped with thousands of letters from people describing their own experiences with mind machines, or clamoring to try the devices for themselves. I was a writer, not a showman, and dreaded public speaking, but the demand was so great it drew me away from the book I was writing. I found myself out on the road accompanied by ten cases of mind machines, doing a series of Megabrain Workshops, in which I guided people through sessions on a variety of the machines. I watched hundreds of people experience the machines and emerge with stories of bursts of insight, profound revelations, experiences of lucidity, illumination, ecstasy. Peak experiences. There was no doubt. The things just seemed to work.

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