Monday, June 12, 2023

Interview on Life After Death


                                        On Life After Death       

 1-Good evening, Professor Michael Grosso.  You taught philosophy at the University. What made you interested in the afterlife and its manifestations?

To begin with, before I knew what a “crisis apparition” was, my mother told me a story. She saw an apparition of her brother at the moment he died in a hospital several miles away.  As a young adult I once saw an apparition of my dead grandmother along with a woman I never saw before whom I later identified in a photograph as my grandmother’s sister, a woman long deceased I had never met or known.  This, along with my my growing interest in the mind-body problem, prompted me to investigate the various forms of alleged afterlife evidence.


2-After your research experience of many years, what is consciousness and what role does it play for you?

Consciousness is what I call the most obvious scientific mystery.  Even reductive materialists like Stephen Pinker admit they are clueless when it comes to explaining the origin of consciousness, without which there is no awareness of the being of anything.  Consciousness appears to us as the fundamental, irreducible, many-layered fact of being. To me consciousness is the premise of my current existence and a beacon pointing to unknown regions and dimensions of possible exploration.


3-You wrote a book "Experiencing the Next World Now". Many experiences such as those of the NDE show how beyond the veil of perception of the senses and social and religious superstructures one can experience an altered state of consciousness that can show us the life of consciousness beyond matter. What do you imagine the life of consciousness in the non-physical dimension will be like?

I think the closest analogy to our possible afterlife mode of being is the dream. The world of our dreams is purely mental and infinitely plastic in its phenomenology, ranging from hellish nightmares to heavenly epiphanies.  The dream is often a vehicle of paranormal cognition and creative breakthrough, the intermediate zone between our embodied and our possible disembodied postmortem existence.  The world of the arts seems to me our best source of clues to the nature of an afterlife. 


4-The experiences of NDE and OBE or the ASC seem in many cases to produce a change of personality in those who live these experiences and a compassionate openness towards others. Without mentioning the many studies on the symptomatology of these experiences, I ask you what is your opinion on the matter.

This is a complex question.  “Compassionate openness towards others,” that is the question, the central issue, indeed, the global challenge. At last count, about 23 or 24 wars are raging on earth now, and governments everywhere are spending their wealth on beefing up more diabolical weaponry.  My impression is that radically powerful ASCs (like OBEs, NDEs, and psychedelics) can sometimes decisively alter the personality toward openness and compassion.  The most dramatic is the life review of the NDE, in which the subject relives the injuries imposed on others, but from the point of view of the injured party.  In short, if we somehow for a moment attain to a godlike perspective on the world, we would see and feel far more than we usually do. To reach that point of view you have to break out of your personal perspective.  But most of us suffer from a certain sclerosis of the imagination.  To combat this, in my opinion, is a renaissance of the humanities.   


5-Your blog Consciousness Unbound is very interesting and deals with many topics concerning consciousness, spirituality and peak experiences. You are also interested in psychic research. Recent scientific studies (Korotkov, 2013) demonstrate that human consciousness possesses measurable magnetic energy. How do you think this magnetism relates or not to life in matter and life experiences in the after-death dimension?

Bravo! I want to read that paper.  I see this finding as supporting a general claim about the reality of psychokinesis (PK), which is very general. The bare claim: mental states--volitions, emotions, fantasies, frustrations, etc.—can have direct influence on physical states.  This should be obvious to any introspective person. An angry thought will raise my blood pressure. Fear will make my hands cold and my gut writhe. Etc. But there is also evidence that mental states can influence external physical states, experimental and spontaneous.  There are distinct categories of  PK phenomena, and not the least is a vast literature on paranormal healing, and growing; there is the world of the poltergeist, all sorts of unaccountable physical hijinx; the experimental data on materialization; the world of apports and hauntings,where all sorts of physical events are reported.  Not only is the idea of PK induced magnetism plausible, but in fact the PK phenomena take us beyond the laws of physics today.  The roles of hyperspace and quantum mechanics have been discussed in efforts to make sense of the physical phenomena, all of which must have bearing on our thoughts of post-biological survival.    


6-The ecstatic path in mysticism as an experience of contact with the divine. Is this path predestined in some men or is it for everyone?

In moods of evolutionary optimism, I like to imagine a time when human common sense will have absorbed something of a mystical tincture, so there might be a developmental trend toward a higher mode of consciousness.  Another optimistic fantasy I entertain would be something like reinventing the ancient Greek Eleusinian Mystery practices, in which people would undergo a ritual transformation, a long fast crowned by drinking a psychedelic brew that induced a vision of Persephone, goddess of the underworld.  This was a psychic and a social form of human transformation we might reconstruct for today’s world.  Not about a Greek goddess but suited to each person’s spiritual symbols and metaphors.


7-Materialistic science does not share the existence of the soul in metaphysical terms since it believes that, despite several studies, it is not measurable. How can post-materialism tell us about the soul and its functions?

Measure has to do with mathematized physical space, not applicable to the way the concept of soul is used.  Soul is less a thing than a process of mental life. The post-materialist is already engaged with soul life through his feelings, memories, dreams, desires, reasonings, passions, the whole of one’s mental life, conscious and subliminal. Soul, as Keats wrote in a famous letter, is what we are forever making in the face of a daunting but equally wondrous stream of complex experience.  The soul-deprived and soul-hungry need but turn the mysterious beam of their consciousness on themselves.  

8-A science of states of consciousness. There are many studies now analyzing alleged ASC experiences. But there is still no science and perhaps there is no need. It seems more useful to understand the mechanisms of the activation of these states and their usefulness for human evolution. What is your point of view?

I couldn’t agree more.  We need to understand that there are mechanisms, practices we can pursue that promise to open us to altered modes of perception and altered modes of action. The science, or knowledge, that we need is personal and indeed existential. An ironical twist here: objective science is telling us we have ten years before climate catastrophe overtakes us and destroys world civilization. All we have to fight back is the soul and its elusive science.   

9-What does soulmaking mean to you today?

For me, soulmaking means two great things conducive to saving the world from human greed, malice and suicidal stupidity. Two items, mutually supportive: empathy for all sentient beings, including those we righteously loathe and despise and radically rethinking and transforming our relationship to the natural world, shifting from the murderously exploitative to a life-affirming partnersnhip.


10-You have written a book "Frontiers of the Soul". Chapters on the parapsychology of religion. God, the myth, the spiritual experience. The new forms of contemporary spirituality seem to slowly detach from religion and be "spiritual but not religious". Do you think this was an element that already belonged to the mystics of the past and is only now being revealed?

Yes, I do.  The part of religion many people crave is the part that touches and frees their soul and spirit, expands their sense of life, extends it perhaps into a fuller mode of afterlife existence. The part of religion that is detestable is the cruelty and fanaticism, and the unholy lust for power that drives the dialectic of damnable  religionism.

11 -Beyond physicalism and the irreducible mind. The challenge to reductive and monist scientific materialism is not really a challenge since it is expressed as the result of a limited paradigm for minds that do not have access to the transpersonal dimension. The question is: In your opinion is scientific materialism to be limited or the type of men who propose it to be unsuitable for a broader science that includes the non-material dimension?

Scientific materialism is not a crime but it leaves out the inner dimension of the human adventure and has become the servant of two trends that singly and combined are driving the entire planet toward climate/nuclear Armageddon: consumerism and militarism.  The details for the latter proposition are before us in the news every hour of every day.


12- We were delighted with Julian Jaynes's theories on the collapse of the bicameral mind and the birth of consciousness to find a theory that defines the mind that speaks to the divine. Can you tell us about your opinion on the relationship of mind and soul and their relationship to human consciousness?

Thanks for this concluding question that has baffled and inspired the humblest and the greatest of minds.  When I was about 18 years old I walked into the Vedanta Society somewere on New York’s East Side.  The first thing I saw on the wall was a quote from the Rig Veda: “Truth is one; people call it variously.” That confirmed my own intuition, and it’s what I believe today.  From the Upanishads I further refined the intuition of a single source of divine power and illumination, the root of all the insights, visions, and inspirations that gave rise to the great historical religions; the magical and shamanic traditions; the isolated flowerings of genius in all walks of life—a process that never stops. 

The situation today is unique, however. It now appears as the result of encroaching climate catastrophe that we can speak of a global near-death experience.  I’ll end with a question: will these mega challenges serve in the long run to awaken the latent consciousness we associate with near-death transformation? 

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