Hitching a Ride to Other Worlds
Each of us lives inside the sphere of our own experience. Our perceptions, memories and beliefs make up our world. In time we acquire assumptions about what is real and possible, which is fine for getting around in our familiar world. But sometimes (sooner or later, I would say) things happen that trigger something totally unexpected.
One example are close encounters with death. What looks terribly, horribly bad suddenly opens to a greater reality. The person is radically changed in ways that seem altogether positive—emotional, paranormal and mystical. A human being can suddenly undergo a complete transformation. The evidence points to something normally hidden but potentially capable of sudden manifestation.
And that raises a question. How do we tap into these transformative powers that lie latent within us? We don’t have to be near-death for the gates of inspiration to open for us. The inspiration sometimes likes to initiate contact and orchestrate our transformation. It may happen to persons into spiritual practice or to random bystanders.
Levitation, bilocation, apports and teleportation are very dramatic displays of supernormal hijinks. But our psychic powers are more subtle in the way they insert their suggestions and intrusions. So-called “false feedback” is one way. Arrange it so that someone thinks they have done something paranormal; they will then suddenly produce real paranormal effects.
There is also a contagion effect. Paranormally well-endowed folk are known to temporarily impart their strange abilities to others. Lots of stories about imparting immunity to fire. Come to think of it, this would seem the right evolutionary response to the current heating up of our planet.
I had a student once with a curious talent. Give him a ring or lock of hair or any token of some person and he would casually rattle off true facts about the object or that person. He insisted I could do as he did and tested me. He was right, but it worked only when I was around him.
There are stories of people who while witnessing the near-death of somebody are drawn into the visionary experience themselves. An interesting way to hitch a ride into the next world. What I want to suggest is that traffic in and out of our normal experience is much greater than we suppose. The reason is that the two worlds are adjacent to one another and separated by barriers that are not impassible.
Suppose there really is a hidden dimension of reality where we can travel about in space and time in ways that are normally impossible. The point about this “other” world that seems so remote is how “close” to us it really is. Closeness in spirit is based on feeling. Closeness in physical space has nothing to do with feeling but is measured numerically.
To see just how close we are to a larger mental world, we can observe ourselves. Watching a movie, say, hovering on the edge of sleep (it’s been a long day), suddenly you slip into a hypnagogic state and are surrounded by strange people, all with vividly real and unique facial expressions. Some are looking straight at you and some right through you.
In one instant you went from your waking physical world into a totally different world. The example I just gave was my experience, just one among countless possibilities.
We live close to the edge of another dimension of reality. We underrate the mystery of our dream life, our private vestibule into the greater mind. Our waking world we know through reason and sense experience; the dream world that we periodically visit is totally different. Nevertheless, it is a doorway to a greater mental life.
The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer underscores the otherness of dream reality, and writes that the dream “stands out as something wholly foreign and extraneous which, like the outside world, forces itself on us without our intervention and even against our will. . . . All its objects appear to be definite and distinct, like reality itself.” He quotes Aristotle, “a dream is sensation (aisthema), in a certain way.” Another philosopher, H. H. Price, has argued that the dream may well be our best model for an afterlife world. Price and C.D. Broad also argue that our dream life is still active when we are awake, busy dealing with the external world.
The main point here. Our actual minds extend more widely and deeply than they might normally appear. We need a concept of mind that reveals—not conceals—the full reality of our inner potential. We’ve been bullied by reductive science into a one-dimensional view of ourselves. But the facts imply a multiverse of mind & consciousness. All the facts point to the reality of a greater mind,. But for most of us this means nothing. It might be compared to living a hardscrabble life, oblivious to the wealth one has scattered in many banks.
Again, I want to stress: the greater mind overflows into the psyches of certain people. A Canadian psychiatrist, Richard Bucke (1837-1902) had spent time with friends reading and discussing the Romantic poets; on his way home, driven inside a hansom, he was in a relaxed state. Then, suddenly, he had an experience, like no other, that changed his life and issued in a book about people who had the same kind of experience he had. He called the book Cosmic Consciousness.
Here’s what Bucke wrote (about himself in the third person): “All at once, without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped round as it were by a flame-colored cloud. For an instant he thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city; the next he knew the light was within himself. Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exaltation, of immense joyousness accompanied or followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. Into his brain streamed one momentary-lightning flash of Brahmic splendor, leaving thenceforward for always an after-taste of Heaven . . ..”
It’s hard to read this and countless similar reports and not acknowledge the perennial intuition: the mind and consciousness that I am is an inlet to a greater mind and consciousness that I may become. How that may happen is for each of us to discover in our own way.
Friday, April 9, 2021
Monday, March 29, 2021
In the early stages of human history, the world around us seemed alive and full of strange powers and hidden realities. Early peoples created mythologies and developed skills and attitudes to help them connect with the good and avoid the bad powers. They made up a language of gods, spirits, angels, etc., which they used to communicate with the motley higher powers. This is how things were until some Europeans in the 17th century invented modern science and technology.
Science is an awesome human achievement; but the type of science that has become dominant in the Western world has serious problems.
The spiritual imagination was demoted in status if not destroyed. We also witnessed the death of traditional ideas of what is sacred. Instead of a sacred mountain we have a sacred right to violate the mountain for the sake of profit. Instead of a sacred river we have a sacred right to own an arsenal of guns to protect our river.
The spiritual imagination is invaded, invalidated, and practically pushed toward extinction. But a new mentality leads to a new mode of physicality, one of rampant exploitation of natural resources for empire and personal profit. The result of this desacralized assault on nature has unleashed an unprecedented climate crisis that threatens world civilization.
H.H. Price (1899-1984), an Oxford University philosopher, thought that modern Western civilization is the most unspiritual in human history. He was therefore interested in psychical research, which he thought might help us understand spiritual realities that modern science has left in the lurch. Are there ways we can re-connect with our lost inner life?
Price devised an experiment to test what I will call his creative unconscious. It’s an experiment anyone can try. You come to a question, an issue you have to deal with, but you don’t have an answer. You could use some help. Price suggests you pose the question to your subconscious self just before going to sleep. But part of the request is that you ask for a specific time in the morning for the response to come. You must prepare, poised for a response at the appointed time, say, ten in the morning, with pencil and paper handy. Price reports that on average he would get a useful response whenever he tried this seven out of ten times.
Persistence may be required, but the idea of such an experiment could be a way to launch an interesting friendship. I mean a creative friendship between our conscious and subconscious minds. The essence of it is to learn to converse with the higher intelligence within us.
I’ve been exploring this idea and noticed several things that made me wonder. About a month ago, for example, I woke up in the morning and started to make the bed. I had barely begun when I looked at the sheets and for no conscious reason instantly removed them from the bed and decided at once to throw them into the washing machine. (Not the way I would ever begin a day.)
I went downstairs and got a surprise. Water all over the floor and a large sink near the washing-machine was just starting to overflow. I fixed it. Had I not gone downstairs, my entire basement would have flooded before I would have noticed anything. My subliminal self prompted me to grab those sheets just in time. Coincidence, one might say, but I doubt it; something out of the blue was pulling on me to go downstairs.
The personification of paranormal power is a way to release the power. The great powers are vain and like to be named. So it’s a good idea to personify the creative intelligence you’re trying to communicate with. If you’re religiously inclined, this should be a snap; just introduce yourself to your guardian angel. If not religious, be inventive—use anything to charm and hang your focus on. I like to personify my subconscious self—gateway to Mind at Large—as simply, “Big Mike.”
There’s a simple but important point I’m trying to make. If it’s true as Price said that we’ve been bullied out of rapport with a great and mysterious source of creativity within us, then we should do something about it. We should at least learn to knock on the door of our unknown selves, and not be too afraid if the door swings open.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
The following story is about events that occurred one day in September,
1995. A similar phenomenon, I’ve learned, was repeated in
2006, 2008, and 2010. The phenomenon is one of
dematerialization and nobody has clue to explain it. I’ll start to
worry when people start to dematerialize.
Just before dawn (on a day in 1995) a man from New Delhi dreamed that Lord Ganesha,
the elephant-headed god of wisdom, wanted milk. The man
dashed out to the first temple to make a milk offering to the statue
of Ganesha; much to his amazement he watched the milk disappear
before his eyes. The impossible nature of what he saw was obvious.
Others joined him and witnesses multiplied. By the end of the day,
reports of statues “drinking” milk were coming from all parts of India
and from Hindu communities in London and other parts of the world.
The entire phenomenon, witnessed by millions, seems to have ended
after about 24 hours. “The `milk-miracle’ may go down in history as the most important
event shared by Hindus of this century, if not in the last millennium,”
reported Hinduism Today in 1996. Ordinary life in New
Delhi came to a standstill while liter upon liter of milk vanished
into thin air. The stock market in (what was then called) Bombay
came to a halt as people rushed to temples to witness and participate
in the wonder.
Disbelievers sneered and called it “mass hysteria.”
The initial response of the Indian press condemned the reports as
ignorant and superstitious. Newspaper reporters who witnessed the
phenomenon from the UK, USA, Denmark, Germany and Canada
were less glib. Reporters from the Washington Post did not reject as
illusion what they personally witnessed at a Maryland Hindu temple.
UK reporter Rebecca Maer visited a temple in Southall and wrote in
the Daily Express, “It’s difficult to dismiss something you have seen
for yourself.” The diehard denier will simply respond by saying that
people can be convinced they saw something that was in fact an illusion.
True, but proof is needed that it really is an illusion. What I
saw on CNN was no illusion. It was perfectly clear; the white liquid,
from inside its container, slowly diminished in size until it was all
Two Hindu students of mine were in India at the time of the
phenomenon and wrote accounts of what they personally observed.
One of them confirmed a fact I had read about in the newspapers.
There was a milk shortage around the country as a result of all the
milk that Lord Ganesha drank up! Here is the story from my other
student, Deepak Bhagchandani: “I have personally witnessed and experienced
the opportunity to feed the Lord with my own hands in a
temple, in New Delhi. I stood and waited in a queue at the Ganesha
temple. It was astonishing and unbelievable when my turn came to
offer milk to the Lord. I took a spoonful of milk in my hands and
placed it near the sculpture. The milk disappeared slowly and gradually.
It was not flowing down or being wasted. As a matter of fact, I
could see no traces of milk anywhere.” Deepak adds that he returned
to the queue three times for a repeat performance. (Deepak also wrote
an account of his witnessing “bhabutti,” or sacred ash, materialize
from a Sai Baba photo, a widely reported phenomenon.) Remarkably,
this story of Ganesha, altogether astonishing, quickly vanished from
public consciousness; it seems to have made a very slight impression
on the Western mind.
Disbelievers came up with lame objections. A reporter for the
Indian Express complained about wasting milk! Others bemoaned
the loss of time on the job, so many people having fled their workplaces
to witness the wonderfully amusing but superfluous miracle.
They complained about the “absence of a scientific temper” without
putting the issue to a test themselves. The disbelievers were so frantic
they moralized about the “failure of the education system.” Miracles,
according to Malini Parthasarathy, writing for Chicago’s India Tribune,
were “anachronisms incompatible with the vision of a secular
and scientifically oriented India.” How rude!—how lower class of
miracles! Don’t they know their place?
(For the full story, see my book, Smile of the Universe, available on
Thursday, February 11, 2021
A Miracle 70,000 People Saw: the Movie
The other night I watched a movie on Netflix called “Fatima,” directed by Marco Pontecorvo: a famous story about three children who claimed to see visions of the Virgin Mary. But what the children claimed to see is not the point of this post. It’s what 70,000 witnesses actually saw and experienced at Fatima, Portugual, on October 13, 1917.
The film tells the story in an even-handed way; believers are not portrayed as idiots and the people who don’t believe in the visionaries are not cast as cruel or repressive. The focus is on Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco (all less than ten years old) and the pressure on them to recant their story.
The children are the heroes of this story, sticking to the truth of their experience, in spite of parents, mayor, established church authorities, the Marxist press (ascendent at the time), all trying to get them to state in public that they were lying. The kids could not be swayed. The doctors, moreover, determined that they were perfectly normal, mentally and physically.
As the story unfolds, we are taken into the future, 2005, at a convent where Lucia resides, and there we watch how a critical investigator, played by Harvey Keitel, questions Lucia (she is now an old woman) and tries in a polite way to undermine her beliefs, but she is serenely unimpressed by his arguments. “Keitel’s” comments are interesting, as is the mystic cool of Lucia, who fought against an entire town when she was a child.
In May of 1917, the children first encountered a lady of supernormal luminosity and attractiveness who said she was from heaven. She had a message of prayer as the path to peace. The lady told the children to come back to the same spot every month for five times. The children undergo all manner trials as they return each month and carry on their private communications with their mysterious visitor, invisble to everybody else.
When reviewers write about this film, they invariably describe it as as “faith-based,” implying the story is for “believers” not for critical viewers. But this is to ignore what is really extraordinary about the true story. The three visionaries were not just fearless and unbending in their belief in the reality of the lady of light they saw and conversed with. The lady made two predictions.
First, she promised Jacinta and Francisco that they would soon join her in heaven, and indeed the two children were taken out by the 1918 epidemic while Lucia lived into her nineties.
But by far it was a second prediction that the “lady from heaven” made to the children that’s so interesting. The children, prompted by her parents, asked the Lady if she would produce some sign of her reality. The lady replied that on the 6th and her last monthly visit she would indeed provide a display that will make her reality fully manifest to all that were present.
This would seem to have been an experiment designed to make an impression on the public at large. The record of the prediction undoubtedly exists; something spectacular was going to happen at a specific time and place. Well, it was inevitable that on October 13, 1917, crowds of people from all over would gather at the Cova da Iria, the original scene of the alleged apparitions, ardent believers hoping for a miracle and ardent disbelievers ready to gloat and mock when nothing (they expected) would happen. 70,000 strong were waiting in the pouring rain and it had just passed noon, and some were all set to give up and leave.
But then “the crowd saw the clouds separate like two vast curtains rolled apart, and the sun appear between them in the clear blue.” Lucia is said to have cried out, “Look at the sun!” What the crowd then saw was “something stupendous, unheard of, almost apocalyptic. The sun stood forth in the clear zenith like a great silver disk (and began to spin). . . Madly gyrating in this manner three times, the fiery orb seemed to tremble, to shudder, and then to plunge precipitately, in a mighty zigzag , toward the crowd.” (See W. T. Walsh, Our Lady of Fatima)
Witnesses fell to their knees in awe and wonder, colored lights flashed, the air warmed and the drenched crowd and countryside was suddenly dry. After a few minutes the orb reversed course and rose back up into the sky with the same zigzag motion and disappeared into the sun. Skeptical reporters for major newspapers wrote up detailed accounts of the prodigy, which was witnessed by people miles away who reported unexplained healings.
None of this is covered in Pontecorvo’s film, although a scene of strange light effects is used but for the sake of esthetics, not for the scientific challenge it poses. Now consider a further detail that adds to the mystery. The “sun” is several times described as a “disk” and its terrifying descent toward the crowds and its ascent back up the sky is described in terms of a “zigzag” motion. John Keel and Jacques Vallee have noted the trademark zigzag motion of the Fatima sun dance phenomenon, which is characteristic of the way UFOs travel in space.
I myself had ocular proof of this zigzag phenomenon. On April 23, 1971, I (and two others) witnessed a light form signal us from the dome of our Lady of Pompei in Greenwich Village, and then take off, and in a fraction of a second I watched it zigzag north toward the Empire State Building where it vanished.
“Fatima” is a good movie, but the story is not merely “faith-based”; real facts are involved—facts that raise fascinating questions about the strange universe we inhabit. It seems that stories about unidentified visitors may be going mainstream. Signs of growing elasticity in the collective intellect are reason to celebrate.
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
There has never been a period of human history when so much information has been available on the topic of life after death. And yet, mainstream science has no serious interest; and neither has mainstream religion. The unshackled popular mind, however, is open to the possibilities.
For a moment, let’s assume that the great traditions and modern research are correct, and that there is indeed a continuity of consciousness, unbreakable by bodily death. Not everyone is necessarily thrilled at the afterlife prospect. If you dropped ironclad evidence in their lap, many will turn tail and run. So maybe there’s reason to fear life after death.
One of the dangers of life after death is that you may be reincarnated on Earth, maybe the worst thing that could happen in the 21st century. Odds are you’ll be born into the impoverished majority, exposed and defenseless on a planet being ravaged by climate cataclysm.
Just imagine arriving in the next world—you look around, and realize things are a bit weird. You reach in your pocket for your Smartphone; it should be possible to Google your way around. But no! You have no pocket and you have no Smartphone.
Without some kind of guide book, or map, one could get lost in the after-world. So are there guidebooks we can consult in advance? You could try Dante’s tour book of the after-world. You could descend into Homer’s Hades and eavesdrop on Achilles rail against the misery of the afterlife. Traditional religions can’t resist touting the moral necessity of the most fiendish punishments. If that’s all there is, it might be rational to pray for extinction.
On the other hand, I believe in the possibility of the afterworld being a great trip after all, maybe even quite ecstatic. Still, there’s the problem that we’re completely unprepared to make the move.
There is one afterlife guidebook that C. G. Jung liked, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. I recommend it if you’re interested in the next world. According to Tibetan teaching, at death one encounters a great light, just as reported in many near-death experiences. But this bright beginning may be misleading for things are likely to go downhill after that.
The most important message from the Tibetan Book of the Dead: recognize that the demons and angels we see in the next world are projections of our own minds. The light that casts a spell on us, and all the dark and fearful monsters, are parts of ourselves, only externalized.
This Tibetan teaching applies to the experience of living also; we project the contents of our psyches on people and the world around us all the time. If I’m in a bad mood, the smile of a child might appear sinister. If I’m in a gay, expansive mood, I see the extraordinary in the ordinary. So for this life as well as our possible next life, the more practiced at recognizing how we’re painting the world with our own minds, the better.
The afterlife may be inherently destabilizing, except perhaps for the enlightened and saintly elites who have mastered their inner forces and know how to deal with the postmortem environment.
For many, perhaps, afterlife might turn out to be more miserable than embodied life. Consider another way to imagine the dangers of the afterlife. In the liberation of consciousness at death, the subconscious memories of our lives may flood and send us through hells of recrimination, brooding, and obsessing on what we did or might have done. Working through it all would be purgatory.
On the bright side, purgatory should end, and the mind will figure out ways to explore and enjoy its new mode of being. Switching dimensions has to be a major learning experience. For example, I assume there will be sex in the afterlife, but it might not be easy. After all, how indeed are we to manage making love with another with our bodiless souls? True, we might acquire astral bodies in the next world, but that could be problematic. I can imagine some poor souls going crazy with frustration because ‘love’ at the higher frequencies turns out to be very difficult for them.
I think life after death may be very boring for some people. And for people who die in the 21st century, many will suffer because they won’t have their Smartphones, their computers, or their sex organs. I think I know what happens next, at least if the Tibetan Book of the Dead is right. The bored, restless and maladjusted in the next world become peeping Toms and Janes; they spy on living folk making love to each other, and get turned on. That’s how they get sucked back into the world via reincarnation.
Anyway, I think we should reckon on some of the dangers before we get too worked up over the prospect of a next world. Nobody knows for sure what happens to us on arrival. Some of us may be hauled off to something really nasty. There is no reason to believe that the laws of the next world are democratic.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?
William Shakespeare, Henry IV
Edgar Mitchell, the American astronaut who flew to the moon and back, was also a great explorer of inner space. Dr. Mitchell was also interested in the UFO phenomenon, which, since 2017 has finally been acknowledged after decades of cover-up in mainstream publications like the New York Times.
Mitchell’s research, which culminated in the publication of Beyond UFOs, is explicit about combining ufology and parapsychology under the unifying banner of consciousness studies. Bringing them together is natural enough for one simple reason; the literature of UFOs and alien encounter is shot through with incidents of paranormality: telepathy, levitation, dematerialization, supernormal healing, and so on. Unexplained aerial phenomena are a part of, and connect with, religious history.
Mitchell’s model opens to an expanded research program. The editors of Beyond UFOs (Hernandez, Klimo, Schild) have tapped into a huge, sprawling, and often hidden resource of information that the government and scientific culture have been shy about confronting.
Beyond UFOs (2018)is the first volume in a series dealing with a powerfully expanded anomaly-database. However, early researchers were aware of the paranormal dimension of ufology. Kenneth Ring and Raymond Fowler studied cases of people who had near-death experiences and close encounters with alien intelligence. Some near-death experiences apparently open people to having contact with angels, aliens, and related agencies of transcendence. Some experiencers claim is that the visitations are meant to accelerate human evolution—a timely idea, in light of today’s many worldwide crises.
One fact has yet to fully penetrate the consciousness of people on Earth. Human technologies have resulted in polluting and over-heating the planet, which has set into motion forces that threaten life and civilization everywhere. Without a united human response, all these problems will progressively worsen. President Biden is right on this. A radical change of prevailing human values, of attitudes and lifestyles are necessary, if we hope to avert an unimaginable catastrophe.
Rey Hernandez has invited me to assist in sorting out the papers that will be used in subsequent volumes of this series. The volumes will be about presenting the extraordinary data of contemporary experiencers and the ongoing effort to articulate an evolved paradigm of the human adventure.
Another fact that has yet to penetrate. People everywhere are having experiences that shatter many assumptions about our everyday world. Sometimes it seems that some people are crazy or that most of us are very superficially acquainted with what we call ‘reality’. William Blake once said that where some people just see the sunrise, he saw “the sons of God leaping for joy.”
But here’s the main point. As our minds change so does our world. The world that we experience is both screened out and magnified by our beliefs, memories, and feelings at any given moment. Learning something new, acquiring a new concept, realizing a new possibility can alter our existential modus operandi. I’m saying all this in light of the eighty-five or so papers I’ve been reading and trying to sort out for publication. More people are having anomalous experiences than we might suspect, everyday folks as well as people expert in academic and scientific knowledge and practical wisdom.
In many instances I find that once the psychic door opens, traffic with the extraordinary increases exponentially. For whatever reason, there seems to be a class of humans that report encounters with the presence of super-humanity. It’s as though two radically distinct modalities of perception are emerging, one of our everyday world, another of a superordinary world.
In the mass of reportage that I’m surveying, there are accounts not only of people being visited by aliens but also of people who attempt to initiate contact with these exotic beings. That would of course shift the phenomenon into a different gear we could call experimental—Glendower’s attempt to call the spirits from the vasty deep!
As far as where I have been led in my explorations, there are two steps I would single out. The first makes the second possible. Our minds are not sealed up in our sensory world nor in our rationally inferred universe. We seem in fact to inhabit an extrasensory universe and possess the intuitive faculties to explore a much wider universe of consciousness. Once we begin to grasp our expanded interior mental life, we can see how it might be possible to have encounters with strange beings.
The first step is to appreciate that our personal minds are subliminally part of a greater mind. This entails the second possibility that we can make contact with the greater mind. I keep finding accounts of people who claim to have called down the spirits and indeed the UFOs. There are folks all over the world who say they have learned to consciously induce encounters of the supernormal kind. They call upon beings of high strangeness—and, say many, they come!
To hear of and read about all this occurring in the 21st century is a bit surprising. Nevertheless, it remains in the world at large. In my book on miracles (Smile of the Universe), I described many striking examples of phenomena that seem like part of a dialogue between some man or woman and something we’re modestly calling “a greater reality.”
This may sound familiar to many religious believers. But the idea may sound fresh to the many spiritual orphans wandering about. The big idea is that we can strike up meaningful dialogue with beings and forms of intelligence that common sense and materialist science may look upon as impossible.
But my experience and my research speak to a future of extraordinary possibilities. Our lives have potentials we can scarcely begin to imagine. To answer Hotspur’s question , “Will they come?” (when you call the spirits from the vasty deep). I would answer, “They just might! And you better be ready!”
Monday, January 18, 2021
Edgar Mitchell, the American astronaut who flew to the moon and back, was also a great explorer of inner space. Dr. Mitchell was also interested in the UFO phenomenon, which since 2017 has finally been acknowledged after decades of cover-up in mainstream publications like the New York Times.
Mitchell’s research, which culminated in the publication of Beyond UFOs, is explicit about combining ufology and parapsychology under the unifying banner of consciousness studies. Bringing them together is natural enough for one simple reason; the literature of UFOs and alien encounter is shot through with paranormal reports: telepathy, levitation, dematerialization, supernormal healing, and so on. Unexplained aerial phenomena are a part of, and connect with, religious history.
Mitchell’s model opens to an expanded research program. The editors of Beyond UFOs (Hernandez, Klimo, Schild) have tapped into a huge, sprawling, and often hidden resource of information that the government and scientific culture have been shy about confronting. It does seem that the cover up of the incredibly complex UFO phenomenon is ending.
Beyond UFOs is the first volume in a series dealing with the expanded anomaly database. It should be mentioned that early researchers were aware of the paranormal dimension of ufology. I would single out Kenneth Ring and Raymond Fowler as having studied cases of people who had near-death experiences and close encounters with alien intelligence. Some near-death experiences open people up to having contact with angels, aliens, and related agents of transcendence. One widespread claim is that the purpose behind the apparent alien visitations is to boost, guide, and accelerate human evolution.
Human technologies have resulted in the pollution and over-heating of the planet, and set into motion forces that threaten life and civilization everywhere. A radical change of human values, attitudes and lifestyles seem increasingly necessary if we hope to avert unprecedented catastrophe.
Rey Hernandez has invited me to assist in sorting out the papers that will be used in subsequent volumes of this series. The volumes will be about presenting the extraordinary data of contemporary experiencers and the ongoing effort to explain them.
There is a common sense world that we all inhabit and need to honor and respect. But people everywhere are having experiences that shatter our assumptions about that commonsense world. Although in one sense we all inhabit the same world, it’s also true to say we don’t because we all experience the world differently. Sometimes the difference is so extreme as to suggest either that some people are crazy or that most of us are blithely unaware of what is happening. I think it was William Blake who said that where some people just see the sunrise, he, Blake, was seeing the sons of God leaping for joy!
But here’s the big point. As our minds change so does our world. The world that we experience is both filtered and underlined by our beliefs, memories, and feelings at any given moment. Learning something new, acquiring a new concept, realizing a new possibility can alter our lives and our relationship to other people. I’m saying all this in light of the eighty-five or so papers I’ve been reading and trying to sort out for the new volumes intended for publication.
I want then to mention several points that for me represent new ways of looking at the world. e remarkable accounts of high strangeness.
More people are having anomalous experiences than we might suspect, everyday folks as well people expert in academic and scientific experiences.
People are having many and various experiences, as if once the psychic door opens, traffic with the extraordinary increases exponentially.
Perhaps one of the most striking ideas is that people can consciously and deliberately induce these extraordinary experiences. I keep finding accounts of people who call upon the highly strange beings—and they come! I discussed this idea in my book on miracles (Smile of the Universe). The big idea to probe more carefully is that we humans can, if we choose to, strike up meaningful dialogue with beings and forms of intelligence that common sense and science think is impossible. Our lives have experimental potentials that we can scarcely begin to imagine.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
A crucial part of Donald Trump’s faithful base are folks of the Evangelical creed. No matter how morally suspect he may appear, they support him because he supports their peculiar brand of Christianity. What is that brand? To tell the truth, it’s a little scary. There’s a vivid preoccupation with the return of Christ and the end of the world—a firm and righteous sense of an impending climax of history.
Novels and movies and preachers are into it, and of course, politics. According to the evangelical endtime scenario, true believers expect to be raptured away to Heaven while a triumphant Christ sends Antichrist and his minions packing. Meanwhile the old Earth and all its unbelieving inhabitants will be burnt to a crisp. To my mind, this sounds like a great script for a horror movie. Trump’s evangelical supporters, like Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo, are devotees of a cruel, undemocratic deity.
Curious bedfellows, Trump and the Evangelicals. A strange rapport. Trump presents himself as supporting religious freedom, which includes being pro-Israel in a big way and opposing women’s reproductive rights in an equally big way. Evangelicals adore Trump because of his packing the judicial system with conservative judges. But what does conservative mean here?
I doubt the majority of Americans are inclined to conserve the values of stone age theocracy. The great Evangelical hope is to establish “biblical justice” in the United States, a country whose concept of justice is rooted in the European Enlightenment, also known as democracy. In short, the rule of the people, not the rule of anybody’s particular God.
The evangelical spirit is wrapped in the expectation of a big showdown. History must climax in a convulsive apocalypse, literally, “uncovering,” an idea with a grip on the collective imagination for millennia. This great climax is always pictured in combative terms. There has to be a final battle between the perfectly good and the abominably bad—between the all-luminous Christ and the pure evil Antichrist.
This terrifying fantasy of things to come has obstacles. For the great climax to occur, the Jewish people must fully repossess their ancient homeland; bad news, of course, for the Palestinians who live there. Palestinians aren’t in God’s plan for Evangelical dominion. And neither are Jews.
I keep asking myself, do people really believe this stuff? In the end, the outcome for Jews is not good. All the Jews that don’t convert, and of course, all the Palestinians, indeed, the entire non-evangelical world—all are doomed to perish in the grandiose final battle imagined by believers. What a cruel, unsociable faith!
Religious believers in this horrific endtime idea are key to Trump’s fanatical base, a man whose character is a swamp of gross irreligiosity. It’s hard to imagine a more narcissistic fiction in the history of the religious imagination-- the horrible hope and homicidal implications of evangelical eschatology.
Thoughtful evangelicals might reflect on the following. Central to endtime prophecy is the figure of an Antichrist. Evangelical breakthrough expects a cosmic showdown. The idea of a final conflict has a long tangled history in mythology, politics, and psychopathy, as I discovered researching my book, The Millennium Myth: Love and Death and the End of Time.
So what about the figure of the Antichrist? In the final conflict, an actual man who is the Antichrist will appear in the fray of world affairs. A highly histrionic fellow, his evil genius is to create an image of the Christ, with the aim of using and exploiting credulous believers for his own private purposes, which are relentlessly selfish.
Speculations on the nature of the Antichrist legend vary, and have been described in fascinating detail by historians, see Norman Cohn’s Pursuit of the Millennium. The Antichrist persona feeds on the paranoia that lies nervously coiled just below our surface mental life. The core feature of the Antichrist is malign deceptiveness. Two elements come into play, the first is indifference to truth itself, any kind of truth, factual, rational or spiritual. The second is to rely on falsification as a weapon to attack and demean the opponent; the Antichrist never gives up, never concedes, never admits failure.
Who does that remind you of? A perfect illustration of Trumpian perversity is calling Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert, an “idiot.” Dr. Fauci and his wife and family have received death threats and have to be protected by the secret service when they go out for a walk. The perversity of threatening the head healer of the nation with death is a mystery to me.
Actually, it is just the kind of nastiness that our mythical Antichrist would revel in. But when we look closely we find something more subtle than brute murder. One can try to destroy a person with lies, a form of subtle murder we might expect Antichrist to specialize in, suitable to a born sneak and a shameless coward.
Saint Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians provides the first written portrait of the Antichrist stemming from the Christian tradition—an imaginal construct that continues to haunt the collective imagination. A roster of candidates in history have at various times been declared the Antichrist, beginning with the Roman emperor, Nero. Paul begins by warning the church in Thessalonica, “Never let anyone deceive you in any way” (2:3). Con artists are a constant in the dealings of humankind. Paul’s advice is good. It speaks to Evangelicals today.
And so does this. When the final confrontation is launched, it will be in plain view. “There will be a great revolt,” writes Paul, and describes our super bad guy as “the wicked One, the lost One, the Enemy, who raises himself above every so-called god or object of worship to enthrone himself in God’s sanctuary and flaunts the claim that he is God.”
Now we’re in familiar territory. The Antichrist is an egomaniac, a malevolent narcissist with a knack for producing “all kinds of counterfeit miracles and signs and wonders, and every wicked deception aimed at those who are on the way to destruction because they would not accept the love of the truth and so be saved.”
This can have strange effects. When folks prefer lies to love, something strange can happen, according to St. Paul. “God sends on them a power that deludes people so that they believe what is false.” (Thess. 2). Who does that remind you of?
I don’t believe in the paranoid Antichrist fantasy. But the likeness to Donald Trump’s character is spot on. Antichrist is a great liar and so is Donald Trump, as the New York Times, the Washington Post and many other fact-checking agencies have documented in fulsome detail. Antichrist , like Trump, is exclusively about himself. The only possible bond with Antichrist is the bond of total submission based on fear (i.e., Republicans fawning on tyrannical Trump.)
Besides the key similarity of deceptiveness, the Antichrist is anti all the Christian virtues. These are simple and easily understood. For example, love, mercy, kindness, compassion, humility; empathy for the suffering (humans and all animals); sympathy for the poor, for the homeless and the refugee; for children; for the sick; for the stranger; for the ill of mind and soul; for women and people of all colors and all ways of loving; and for the air and water and land of our miraculous planet.
Now, could anyone in their wildest imaginings associate the name of Donald Trump with these common human qualities? His actions that knowingly blighted the lives of so many children are odious enough to warrant taking him for an American Antichrist.
Evangelicals need to see Trump the way he actually is—an Antichrist cartoon. The man is a proven pathological liar. In all ways, the antithesis of Christian or any virtues. But Trump is great in one thing. Did ever a man walk on this earth with a more fanatically driven need to imagine that every burp and fart that emanates from him is the most memorable event in the history of the world?
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Kudos for 60 Minutes reporting the story of Matthew Whitaker, complete with a demonstration of his musical genius, and of his congenial personality. Matthew arrived in the world with only a 50/50 chance of survival. He weighed not much more than a pound. His visual apparatus was damaged to the point of leaving him blind. A rough beginning.
But Matthew had two things going for him, wise and loving parents and a spectacular musical genius. He was also lucky to have had an especially good music teacher who recognized the rarity of his gift. Matthew immediately knew music, and once he got used to his mastery of basics, he took off on his own, improvising, inventing, and reinventing with all the energy and range of jazz. He’s been playing professionally since he was eleven years old.
How to explain this? Where did the sudden, superlative gift of music come from?
Not surprising that some scientists might be curious about Matthew. Charles Limb, a neuroscientist and himself a musician, persuaded Matthew to let his team do MRI scans of his brain while he listened to and made music. They were looking for any notable changes in the brain correlated with Matthew while in his unique musical modality. The results say something about creativity but also something about the power of mind over matter.
First, Dr. Limb and his team sought to see the prodigy’s brain in action while listening to people engage in everyday talk. Nothing extraordinary was observed going on in his brain. His visual cortex showed no activity, consistent with Matthew being blind. Now they wanted to observe his brain while he was in his element, making or listening to music, so they switched to a soundtrack featuring one of his favorite bands.
A large panel showing activity in different parts of the brain suddenly lit up all over.
Dr. Limb states that Matthew’s “entire brain is stimulated by music.” This says something about excellence in any sphere, which tends to be an all-encompassing enterprise. In a phrase, one has to be all in. Dr. Limb has something else to say about what Matthew does when rapt in and by music: "His visual cortex is activated throughout. It seems like his brain is taking that part of the tissue that's not being stimulated by sight and using it or maybe helping him to perceive music with it."
Clearly, the musician appropriates the part of his brain that usually works for vision. Now that’s a neat trick! One qualification: Limb writes as if the “brain” does all this, but in fact it is Matthew’s mind, his love of music, his brilliance as a musician that changes the normal function of the brain, first by activating and using his whole brain and also by taking over a part of the brain normally associated with sight. Genius has a biochemical signature but is rooted in and driven by the whole person, especially the whole gamut of one’s mental life.
Apparently, we harbor within us the power to remold the very structure and function of our brains! A scientific literature illustrates the power of our minds, rightly deployed, to remold our brains and bodies and therefore the world around us. See, for example, a spirited book by J. Schwartz and S. Begley that deals with Matthew’s specialty—mind reshaping brain function. It is called The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force. The title contains two big ideas outside the mainstream, first that our minds can exert physical force, and second that our brains are more plastic and malleable to mental influence than formerly assumed.
Now if we can mold our brains like a sculptor molds a statue from some clay, we must also be able to mold our lives creatively and for the better. That is an idea worth pondering and befriending. The trick is to crack open the vaults of our potential so it spills into our actual lives. It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Matthew Whitaker’s fabulous musical capers, but all sorts of possibilities for breakthrough and epiphany remain for us who are just plodding on the path toward enlightmentment.
Monday, December 28, 2020
Some nights ago—I guess it was the night before Christmas Eve—I had a strange experience. I call it strange because I can’t explain it. I have the annoying habit of knowing when I don’t understand something. On the other hand, it was a totally private and very brief experience; but I can’t quite get it out of my mind. It was around midnight, and I had just finished some minor chore. So I was in a state of relaxed vacancy.
I suddenly had the impulse to step out on my porch and look up into the late night sky. The impulse was spontaneous, an uprush from who knows where—and I don’t know why. But I stepped out into the cold night air and was immediately transfixed by what I saw directly above me through a gap in the overhanging foliage of my neighbor’s tree: a tiny dot of light (as large as a distant star) moving in a straight line at a moderate speed very high in the sky.
My attention was riveted on what I was seeing with the question: what is it? It was not a plane, not a star—was it perhaps some kind of satellite? Following its trajectory, it suddenly jumped from its path, I should say, vanished and reappears instantly in another part of the sky. I had to step off the porch into the backyard where I could more clearly see the light again moving along smooth and straight, and then again it instantly shot from its path onto another point in the sky and resumed its leisurely passage. I watched this quantum-hopping of the light several times until I was convinced it was no illusion. If it was a satellite, how could it hop around space that way? If anyone can explain what it was that I saw, I’d be grateful.
There was also the coincidence of having an uncharacteristic impulse on a cold midnight to step out my house to look up into the sky. And lo! at that very moment I observe what at first glance seemed impossible. Perhaps I can construe my little sky epiphany as a sign--but a sign of what?
Are there unknown powers that dance in the sky that like to play with us? I can think of two other weird encounters that support this idea of playful powers. One is a UFO that danced in the sky to the music of John Coltrane for me and two other witnesses in Greenwich Village. The other is a tropical plant that flowered on a freezing cold Christmas Eve that healed a lovers’ quarrel. I tell these two stories in my book, Soulmaking, and they resonate with what I saw the other day. Each oddity or mystery that I encounter adds a little to a pattern of signs that keeps growing. But what are they all pointing to? That’s the question.