Past Lives and Karma

Dr. Joel Whitton, regression hypno-therapist and author of Life Between Life has documented dozens of cases where patients have successfully regressed into a past life or into the between life state.  For instance, one of his patients was a Canadian psychologist who possessed a few quirks: He had a lifelong nail-biting problem, irrational fears of air travel and breaking his leg, an obsessive fascination with torture, and as a child he strangely spoke with a British accent for years.  While under hypnosis Dr. Whitton regressed him to his previous life and the man began telling what he was experiencing.  He was a British WWII pilot on a mission over Germany under heavy fire.  A spray of bullets hit his plane and one of them penetrated the fuselage breaking his leg.  His plane crash-landed in enemy territory and he was captured then tortured for information by having his nails ripped out.  After reliving this experience and coming out of hypnosis, the patient was soon able to recover from his quirks and obsessions.

Whitton’s most remarkable discovery came when he regressed subjects to the interim between lives, a dazzling, light-filled realm in which there was ‘no such thing as time or space as we know it.’  According to his subjects, part of the purpose of this realm was to allow them to plan their next life, to literally sketch out the important events and circumstances that would befall them in the future.  But this process was not simply some fairy-tale exercise in wish fulfillment.  Whitton found that when individuals were in the between-life realm, they entered an unusual state of consciousness in which they were acutely self-aware and had a heightened moral and ethical sense.  In addition, they no longer possessed the ability to rationalize away any of their faults and misdeeds, and saw themselves with total honesty.  To distinguish it from our normal everyday consciousness, Whitton calls this intensely conscientious state of mind, ‘metaconsciousness.’  Thus when subjects planned their next life, they did so with a sense of moral obligation.  They would choose to be reborn with people whom they had wronged in a previous life so they would have the opportunity to make amends for their actions.  They planned pleasant encounters with ‘soul mates,’ individuals with whom they had built a loving and mutually beneficial relationship over many lifetimes; and they scheduled ‘accidental’ events to fulfill still other lessons and purposes.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe”

Many of Whitton’s other patients gave incredibly accurate historical details about the times and places in which they had lived, and some even began speaking long lost languages.  One man, a 37 year old behavioral scientist, was brought back to a past life as a Viking then began shouting in a language unknown to both Whitton and himself.  Linguistic professionals later identified the recording as being Old Norse.  Later, upon being regressed to an ancient Persian lifetime, the same man began writing in a language previously unknown to both of them.  An expert in Middle-Eastern languages later identified the script as Sassanid Pahlavi, an extinct Mesopotamian language that flourished between 226 – 651AD.

Some of the most remarkable situations arise when children spontaneously start speaking in a foreign language or ‘speaking in tongues’ as the situation is often referred to, and which languages they could not possibly have learned from anywhere on Earth during their present life.  Sometimes these are very ancient languages and dialects that are now and have long been extinct, and accordingly no longer spoken in the modern world today, only being known to historians.  In other cases children can describe their previous homes and lives in very considerable detail, including the town or area in which they lived in their previous life, their home, family, friends and often much more specific detail.”  -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (177)

Dr. Whitton and other hypnotists have recorded several cases where patient’s visions have been subsequently confirmed by further research.  Dr. Peter Ramster actually produced a TV documentary in 1983 starring four of his Sydney patients.  These four women had never left Australia yet had all given remarkably detailed accounts of events, people and places across the world experienced during past-life regressions.  The documentary followed Dr. Ramster and the women to the people, countries, towns, villages, and specific houses they envisioned in their past lives.  For instance, one of the women, Gwen McDonald, who was at first a staunch skeptic, recalled during hypnosis a life in Somerset, England.  When taken to Somerset for the first time she was miraculously able to correctly identify the location of several villages, roads, landmarks and directed them straight to her old house.  She was able to lead the film crew to many destinations far more accurately than their maps.  She also knew many local legends and family lines all of which were confirmed by Somerset historians.  In fact a group of locals began coming to see her every night to quiz her on local history and there wasn’t a single question that Gwen couldn’t answer.

She knew the location of a waterfall and the place where stepping-stones had previously been located; the locals confirmed the stepping-stones had been removed about forty years before.  She pointed out an intersection where she claimed there had been five houses; enquires proved this was accurate; the houses had been demolished some thirty years previously.  One of the demolished houses had been a ‘cider house’ as she had claimed.  She knew the names of the villages as they had been two hundred years ago even though the names do not appear on modern maps.  People she claimed to have known were proved to have existed, one of whom was listed in the names of the regiment to which she apparently belonged … She correctly used obscure West Country words that were no longer in use and in fact did not even appear in dictionaries.  In Sydney she had described carvings that had been in an obscure old house twenty feet from a stream in the middle of five houses located about one and a half miles from Glastonbury Abbey.  She knew the local people called Glastonbury Abbey ‘St. Michael’s,’ a fact only proven by reading an obscure two hundred year old history book not available in Australia.  She was able to draw while still in Sydney the interior of her Glastonbury house, which was subsequently proven to be completely correct.  She described an inn on the way to her house that was indeed found to exist and was able to lead the team directly to the house, now a chicken shed.  After cleaning the floor they discovered the stone carvings she had referred to in Sydney.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (183-5)

What other explanation can be given for these reincarnation experiences? Can all of these incredible stories be discounted?  How can such overwhelming evidence be explained away?  With thousands upon thousands of documented and factually verified reincarnation experiences on file it seems that the most obvious and serendipitous explanation is that reincarnation is in fact a reality.

So convincing is the evidence in favor of past life influences that one can only conclude that those who refuse to consider this to be an area worthy of serious study must be either uninformed or excessively narrow-minded.  Over the years my observation of people who have had past life experiences while in non-ordinary states of consciousness has convinced me of the validity of this fascinating area of research … There are observable facts about reincarnation. We know, for example, that vivid past life experiences occur spontaneously in non-ordinary states of consciousness. These require no programming or previous knowledge about the subject. In many instances, these experiences contain accurate information about periods before our own that can be objectively verified.  Therapeutic work has shown that many emotional disorders have their roots in past life experiences rather than in the present life, and the symptoms resulting from those disorders disappear or are alleviated after the person is allowed to relive the past life experience that underlies it.”  -Dr. Stanislav Grof, “The Holotropic Mind” (123-9)

In most of Asia reincarnation is a generally accepted fact, and the mechanism that drives it is karma.  Gautama Buddha said, “Everything in the Universe is the fruit of a Just Law, the Law of Causality, the Law of Cause and Effect, the Law of Karma.”  Karma is basically the moral/spiritual equivalent of Newton’s physical law of cause and effect: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  What goes around comes around, do unto others as you would have done unto you, because either in this life or the next, the equation will remain balanced.

It is karma which makes reincarnation necessary in order that compensation may justly be administered.  Man is eternally suffering and misfortune is a constant goal impelling him forward toward a more perfect state.  Karma is the law, and reincarnation is the means by which that law is administered … Reincarnation and karma are the only explanations for the mystery of life that the reason can embrace.  These laws give purpose to action, meaning to existence.  These same laws release man from the monotony of the daily routine by giving him perspective and the power to see beyond the horizon of his present life … Reincarnation and karma also light the dark mystery of ethics and morality.  These laws give reason to right action, revealing that every action is intimately related to the progress of the individual.  We no longer do right because of scriptural admonition, but because we have learned the meaning of right and wrong as they react upon us through the law of karma.  We grow through every thought and action.  We learn not for one life, but for eternity.  Each art and science that we master becomes part of the immortal self flowing through the ages.” -Manly P. Hall, “Reincarnation: The Cycle of Necessity” (110-114)

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, each pearl on Lord Indra’s necklace represents a complete lifetime, one individual incarnation.  The string running through each jewel represents the immortal consciousness or soul which reincarnates and experiences several physical lifetimes.  The entire necklace, jewels and string, rests upon the neck of God.  This metaphor beautifully symbolizes the cyclical journey individual souls undergo away from and back to pure consciousness, enlightenment, God.

Each individual lifetime can be likened to a facet of a diamond.  The full sparkling diamond with all of its many facets represents the entire self, the individual, while each facet of the diamond represents each separate life.  A diamond has many facets, the total of which constitutes the whole glittering gem.  Each lifetime will add a new facet to the diamond until the whole diamond is ultimately complete in all of its sparkling splendor.  Life, individuality, continues then in the inner spheres of life and reality as a complete glistening diamond, becoming ever brighter, more perfected and more beautiful as the ascent back to God progresses.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (166)

If one person can prove that he has lived before, then man’s whole concept of life is changed.  He is no longer limited by the narrow confines of a single existence.  He need no longer live for the now alone.  The realization of the truth of reincarnation bestows upon the human being not only the realization of his immortality but of his kinship with the ages.  He is part of all that has been, is, or ever shall be.” -Manly P. Hall, “Reincarnation: The Cycle of Necessity” (153-4)

 

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The Truth About Reincarnation

One of the cornerstone beliefs of many world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shintoism, and Zoroastrianism, is the idea of reincarnation.  From the Orphics, Pythagoreans, and Platonists to the Essenes, Pharisees, and Karaites; from Polynesian Kahunas and Brazillian Umbandas to the Jamaican Rastafarians and American Indians; the Gauls, the Druids, the Celts, the Gnostics, and even early Christians all believed in reincarnation.  Great minds like Plato, Socrates, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Voltaire, Hume, Schopenhauer, Goethe, Emerson, Whitman, Napoleon, Franklin, Tagore, and Ghandi all believed that our consciousness, our souls, survive bodily death and continue on.

A theory which has been embraced by so large a part of mankind, of many races and religions, and has commended itself to some of the most profound thinkers of all time, cannot be lightly dismissed.”  -George Foot Moore, “Metempsychosis”

The concept of reincarnation is widespread in the world’s cultures.  Throughout ancient Egyptian, Greek, Judaic, and early Christian traditions; Buddhism; many schools of Hinduism; Japanese Shintoism; and Chinese Taoism, it is less a ‘belief’ than a ‘fact’ based on direct experience and observation.”  -Ervin Laszlo and Jude Currivan, “Cosmos” (153)

Julius Caesar wrote of the Celts that they “were fearless warriors because they wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another.”  Elderly Eskimos have a tradition of selecting newly married couples to permit them to be (reincarnate into) their children.  If they prove good and honorable, the family gives their consent, and the elderly Eskimo commits suicide believing their soul will enter into the family’s newborn.  The British Museum has receipts and other legal documents showing that it was actually once common practice for the Druids to borrow money and promise to repay in a future life!

Origen, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, St. Francis of Assisi and many other early Christian scholars wrote about souls returning to Earth and reincarnating.  For example, Origen wrote that “it can be shown that an incorporeal and reasonable being has life in itself independently of the body… then it is beyond a doubt bodies are only of secondary importance and arise from time to time to meet the varying conditions of reasonable creatures. Those who require bodies are clothed with them, and contrariwise, when fallen souls have lifted themselves up to better things their bodies are once more annihilated. They are ever vanishing and ever reappearing.”

Reincarnation was a widespread belief among early Christians, but at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 AD, Emperor Justinian condemned and outlawed the belief or teaching of reincarnation stating “If anyone assert the fabulous pre-existence of souls and shall submit to the monstrous doctrine that follows from it, let him be anathema!”  Since then the non-belief in reincarnation has continued to dominate western metaphysical thought to the point that 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once quipped “were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life.”

Reincarnation is a difficult subject, for so much silliness has been presented about it that many people dismiss it out of hand.  Most do not realize that in addition to (and one might even say in spite of) the sensational claims of celebrities and the stories of reincarnated Cleopatras that garner most of the media attention, there is a good deal of serious research being done on reincarnation.  In the last several decades a small but growing number of highly credentialed researchers have compiled an impressive body of evidence on the subject.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (213)

There are several doctors, scientists, and researchers who have dedicated their life’s work to the mystery of reincarnation.  One such person was Dr. Ian Stevenson, professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, who spent over 40 years investigating and compiling evidence for reincarnation.  He meticulously documented and verified over three thousand cases of children remembering and confirming knowledge from past lives.  So many children from around the world are able to remember so much about their previous lives that he repeatedly located former friends, relatives, villages, houses, and possessions based solely on their testimony.  For instance one three year-old girl was able to recall so much of her previous life that Dr. Stevenson was able to find her old family and take her to her old home.

It all started when the family was traveling approximately 100 miles from their home.  The girl suddenly pointed and asked the driver of the car in which they were traveling at the time to go down a road to ‘my home,’ saying they ‘could get a better cup of tea there.’  Soon afterwards she started to relate numerous details of her past life associated with her previous family living in this home, including her previous name and that she had two sons.  The little girl also provided a very wide range of highly accurate information regarding the precise details of the home including its location relative to other landmarks in the area, and numerous other details regarding the interior, details which she could not possibly have known any other way.  The little girl said she had died after experiencing a pain in her throat … The family confirmed every single detail of what the little girl had previously stated including that she had died very suddenly leaving behind a grieving husband and two young sons.  The two families lived one hundred miles apart and had certainly never heard of each other previously.”  -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (180)

When the girl’s parents drove through her old town she was able to provide directions all the way.  Upon arriving at her old house she immediately recognized her former brother and called him by his pet name.  She then proceeded to correctly state the name and relation of each person present including her former husband and sons.  As incredible as it sounds, this story is far from unique.  There are hundreds of credible past-life researchers and Dr. Stevenson alone has published 6 volumes with over 3000 such cases.  He says genuine spontaneous past-life recall is actually so common among children that the number of cases considered worthy of investigation far exceeds his staff’s ability to do so.

As unorthodox as many of Stevenson’s conclusions are, his reputation as a careful and thorough investigator has gained him respect in some unlikely quarters.  His findings have been published in such distinguished scientific periodicals as the American Journal of Psychiatry, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, and the International Journal of Comparative Sociology.  And in a review of one of his works the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association stated that he has ‘painstakingly and unemotionally collected a detailed series of cases in which the evidence for reincarnation is difficult to understand on any other grounds … He has placed on record a large amount of data that cannot be ignored.’”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (219)

Ian Stevenson investigated more than 3,000 cases of past-life memories that arose spontaneously in young children.  Taking this approach to minimize the influence of cultural conditioning either to promote or suppress the memories, he worked meticulously to investigate, validate, and record the pertinent memories … These included precise knowledge of their previous homes, environments, and families, and even extended to birthmarks that corresponded to injuries or fatal wounding in the people whose lives they appear to experience … memories like those of the children’s reveal the details of specific remembered lives that can sometimes be correlated and whose accuracy has often been validated.”  -Ervin Laszlo and Jude Currivan, “Cosmos” (154)

In another Dr. Stevenson case, a two and a half year-old boy was able to recall very specific memories and details about his “other life.”  He started telling his parents regularly about how he had been shot and thrown into a river.  He said in his other life he was the owner of an electrical appliance shop.  He had a wife and two children whom he called by their names and said incessantly how he was homesick and wanted to see his family.  The boy’s parents didn’t take him seriously for some time until one day he packed his clothes and threatened to leave if they refused to take him to his family.  Deciding it was time to appease their son’s wishes the parents followed his directions and took him to his old village from his previous life.  Upon seeing his former wife the boy shouted her name and ran to see her.  They talked for hours as the boy recounted several specific memories and events known only by the dumb-founded widow and her deceased husband.  He even accurately described the location of some gold he had buried behind their house and changes that had been made to the home since his death.  He was also immediately able to pick his former sons out of a playground full of neighborhood children and call them by name.

Later the boy recalled the full circumstances of his ‘death,’ how he had been shot in the head while sitting in his car after arriving home from work.  The autopsy report, which was filmed, confirmed he had indeed been shot in the head and had died as a result of a bullet wound to the temple.  The autopsy showed the exact size and location of the entry wound and also of the exit wound on the opposite side of the man’s head.  It was later decided to shave off some of the boys hair around the region of the fatal wound inflicted in his previous life.  The boy had a birthmark at exactly the same location as the bullet entry point of exactly the same size and shape as the bullet that killed him in his previous life.  He also had a second birthmark on the opposite side of his head corresponding with the exit point of the same bullet.  The case later attracted so much interest that it was presented in court in order to conclusively prove the boy was indeed the reincarnated former husband of the widow.  As a result of this case a professor at a major University was quoted as saying that due to the police involvement ‘this is one of the best documented cases of reincarnation he had ever seen.’” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (181-3)

It appears quite common for distinctive features or deformities to carry over from one life to the next.  Physical injuries like the boy’s bullet wounds tend to carry over as scars or birthmarks.  In another case a boy who remembered being murdered by having his throat slit retained a long red scar straight across his new neck.  Another boy had a birthmark perfectly resembling a surgical scar with marks in the pattern of a stitch wound.  The autopsy pictures of his previous body showed the birthmark in the exact same place/pattern as his previous personality’s surgery.

In fact, Stevenson has gathered hundreds of such cases and is currently compiling a four-volume study of the phenomenon.  In some of the cases he has even been able to obtain hospital and/or autopsy reports of the deceased personality and show that such injuries not only occurred, but were in the exact location of the present birthmark or deformity.  He feels that such marks not only provide some of the strongest evidence in favor of reincarnation, but also suggest the existence of some kind of intermediate nonphysical body that functions as a carrier of these attributes between one life and the next.  He states, ‘It seems to me that the imprint of wounds on the previous personality must be carried between lives on some kind of an extended body which in turn acts as a template for the production on a new physical body of birthmarks and deformities that correspond to the wounds on the body of the previous personality.’” -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (218-219)

A dramatic example of reincarnation involving a person who physically died and returned very soon afterwards was in the case of a Turkish bandit.  This involves a boy who claimed he was formerly a Turkish bandit, who when cornered by the authorities shot himself through the lower jaw in order to evade capture.  Medical examination of this boy, the reincarnation of the bandit, highlighted a large mark in his jaw where the bullet would have entered in his previous life, and there was also hair missing from the top of his head where the bullet would have emerged.  A witness to this incident is still alive today and was able to confirm the precise details as given by the boy as to how he took his own previous life.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (178)

In 2005, FOX News reported on 11 year-old James Leininger’s amazing reincarnation story.  James was always fascinated by airplanes, drew intricate fighter pilot scenes, and increasingly was struck with nightmares of being stuck in a crashing plane.  He told his parents of recurring visions involving his Corsair plane being shot down by the Japanese during WWII.  He remembered taking off from a ship called the Natoma and his old name was Jim Houston.  The parents tracked down WWII veteran Leo Pint who served on the Natoma and remembered Jim Houston who was indeed shot down by the Japanese in his Corsair plane.  Later the boy was taken to a reunion of US Natoma vets and was able to correctly name several of them at first sight.  Then he was taken to meet Jim Houston’s sister Anne Houston, whom James insisted he always called “Annie” not Anne, and she wasn’t his only sister, he had an older sister named Ruth as well.  Upon meeting Annie, James talked about many childhood possessions and events that only she and her brother could have known.  They have since put the whole story together in an excellent book titled Soul Survivor.

In Paris at the beginning of the present century lived a certain Mme. Laure Raynaud.  From childhood this lady distinctly remembered that she had lived before and was able to give an accurate description of a previous home and the conditions surrounding her death.  When Mme. Raynaud was forty-five years of age she traveled for the first time to Italy where she was able to recognize the scenes of her previous life.  She was in Genoa when she described the type of house in which she had lived.  With the aid of a friend she located the house and made a statement subject to historical verification.  She said that in her previous life she had not been buried in the cemetery, but in a particular church some distance away.  Research proved that a young lady answering Mme. Raynaud’s description of her previous self had died in the house on October 21, 1809, and had been buried in the church which Mme. Raynaud had indicated.” -Manly P. Hall, “Reincarnation: The Cycle of Necessity” (148-9)

In Buddhist countries, it is no very unusual thing to have children gravely claiming to have had such-and-such a name, and to have lived in such-and-such a place, in their previous lives; and occasionally these claims are in a sort of fashion substantiated.  Such children are in Burma called Winzas, and it is no uncommon thing for a sort of rough test to be carried out by taking a Winza to the scene of his former life, when it is said that he or she can generally identify his former dwelling and friends, and can state facts known only to the dead person and one other living man.  These Winzas are so relatively frequent in Burma that their existence is commonly taken for granted; the power of remembering the past life is generally stated to disappear as the child grows up, though we have met adult Winzas who still claimed to remember the past.”  -Manly P. Hall, “Reincarnation: The Cycle of Necessity” (149)

The most amazing well-known and well-documented account of reincarnation in modern times comes from a young Hindu girl, Shanti Devi, who at four years old began frequently referring to incidents and people from her former life.  She claimed she was a Choban by caste and lived in Muttra with her husband, a cloth-merchant named Kedar Nath Chaubey.

As she grew older Shanti Devi often spoke of her previous life, family, and experiences.  Her recollections were so lucid that she even remembered her old address and could describe her old house in complete detail.  At eleven years old she decided to send a letter to her former husband and shocked her family when Kedar Nath Chaubey wrote back stating emphatically that Shanti Devi must be his wife!  Based on all the things she wrote which only his deceased partner knew he could not escape the astonishing conclusion.

Kedar had already remarried but was so intrigued that he travelled to Delhi to meet Shanti.  When he arrived she immediately picked him out of a crowd and they spent the next few days together, Kedar asking several intimate questions, and Shanti consistently giving correct and characteristic answers convincing Kedar that it could only be his dead wife speaking.  She perfectly described the town of Muttra, the special temple she always visited, their village, house, and even the location of some money buried under their floor.

Kedar returned to Muttra, and soon after Shanti began growing weary and impatient, insisting she was a grown married woman and belonged with her husband.  Eventually, after enduring several tantrums, her reluctant family and a party of fifteen researchers made a trip to Muttra with Shanti.  Upon arriving she was completely familiar with the town and directed the driver exactly how to reach her former village and house.  On the way she saw a man she recognized as her former father-in-law and called him out by name.  Her house had been repainted a different color but she knew every detail about the interior before entering.  That evening at dinner she immediately identified her former mother and father out of a group of over 50 people, called them out by name and ran to embrace them.

At the end of her visit a huge open-air meeting was arranged for the public at a local high school.  Over ten thousand people gathered, many of whom had personally known Shanti in her previous incarnation.  The villagers in attendance were so profoundly interested and impressed that they requested she be left there with them.  Shanti herself also pleaded with her parents to let her stay but to no avail.  They felt it would be better for her to return to Delhi and brought her home with them kicking and screaming, quite literally.  All the way home Shanti argued and insisted she stay in Muttra.  Soon after arriving back in Delhi, she became very depressed and reserved, her spirit seemed crushed, and for the rest of her life Shanti Devi never married remaining faithful to her lost love Kedar.

The facts of her story have been carefully checked by men of the highest character, including Lala Deshbandhu Gupta, managing director of the Daily Tej, the leading newspaper of Delhi; N. R. Sharma, leader of the National Congress Party of India and a close associate of Mahatma Gahndhi; and T. C. Mathur, a leading attorney of Delhi.  These men, with many others, have issued a report on their findings in which they conclude that the story of Shanti Devi is not only entirely genuine but one of the most remarkable records of the remembrance of a previous life ever witnessed and documented.” -Manly P. Hall, “Reincarnation: The Cycle of Necessity” (150)

 

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Ghosts and the OBE

Contrary to Hollywood’s many fanciful farcical depictions, ghosts are generally not monstrous, malicious, or even particularly mysterious; they are simply recently deceased disembodied souls lingering around the physical plane.  In fact, the only difference between a ghost and a person in the OBE state is that an out-of-body traveler can return to their physical body whereas a ghost cannot.  In death, the “silver cord” that connects astral travelers to their physical bodies, that life essence is severed and the disembodied consciousness can no longer return.  The Bible even mentions this in Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, “Remember him – before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

Although ghosts are very real they are almost always completely harmless.  A ghost is after all quite simply a totally normal but deceased human being living within a more subtle body, but after having experienced physical death, for some reason they become trapped in the lowest part of the etheric plane closest to the physical world.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (161)

There are many reasons why deceased souls fail to smoothly transition from out of their bodies and the physical plane.  Some people dying from sudden accidents, murder, or heart attacks for example do not realize they have passed on.  Other people simply will not accept that they have died and cannot return to the physical.  Some are so attached to the material world and addictions like sex and power that they refuse to move on.  Others are attached to certain relationships or harbor guilt they feel must be reconciled.

The true nature of ‘death’ – in fact a seamless transition from life to life – was portrayed so well in the 1998 Robin Williams film, What Dreams May Come. It is simply a withdrawing from the biological computer, and, therefore, the frequency range or dimension in which the computer operates. Our Awareness then continues its eternal existence in other realms of reality.” –David Icke, “The David Icke Guide to the Global Conspiracy” (22)

Several surveys have been taken during the past century in Great Britain and the United States which have concluded that between 10% and 27% of the general population claim to have had at least once in their life, a sensory perception, often visual, of another person who was not physically present (i.e. ghost, apparition).  Many respondents gave startling accounts of recently (or sometimes long) deceased people appearing and even interacting with them.  For example one Charlottesville, Virginia woman had told her sick mother on her death bed when she passed to try and give some signal that her soul lived on.  Two days after her mother’s death, just after returning from the funeral, she laid down and saw an apparition of her mother’s head and shoulders float into the bedroom.  She asked her mother if she was in heaven and her mother smiled and nodded.  She asked if her father was there and again she smiled and nodded then dissipated and floated out the window.  Another woman related a similar story of the day following her husband’s death seeing an apparition of him sitting in his favorite chair.  He greeted her non-chalantly with a smile, asked her how she was doing, assured her he was doing fine then told her where to find the legal papers she would need for finalizing his estate.  

“When the Soul of a deceased person remains in a particular locality, a house for example, the Soul is known as a ‘ghost,’ and the location inhabited by the ghost is considered to be ‘haunted.’  To a physical person living in a ‘haunted’ house the ‘ghost’ will often seem to carry out exactly the same series of actions every time it makes an appearance, often at the same physical time of day or night, for example ‘stepping’ on a creaky floor board, walking up the stairs, rattling door handles, moving items around, and even switching lights and other electric appliances on and off.  This is possible because the Etheric Body is already relatively dense by comparison to the inner Astral and Mental bodies, and a ghost can sometimes achieve the necessary density approaching that of the physical world by absorbing large amounts of Etheric Energy from their surroundings, sufficient to influence the density of physical objects.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (159-160)

My fiancé First has seen ghosts as long as she can remember.  As a child she lived in a house long haunted by a female ghost.  She and several family members had experiences while wide awake feeling invisible footsteps on the bed nearly every night, hearing discarnate crying, screaming or laughter, and often seeing clear apparitions of the same long-haired woman.  Since then ghosts have regularly visited First during her dream-states.  The most noteworthy of these visits was from a schoolmate who she saw soaking wet sitting at the end of her bed one night.  Pale and shivering she sat curled up asking over and over for a towel.  First found out the next day that her schoolmate had just drowned to death last night shortly before visiting her bedside.

“As I have already outlined, Infinite Awareness experiences this reality through the body-computer – akin to wearing a genetic spacesuit. Our lower levels of Awareness can, and mostly do, become confused and identify with the computer. When the computer (body) ceases to function – or ‘dies’ – our Awareness is released from the illusion and starts the process of remembering who it really is. This can be instant for those who were aware of their true identity before ‘computer death’, while for others it can take longer if their incarnate Awareness has become utterly dominated by its computer identity. It is for this reason that there are so many stories of ‘ghosts’ that ‘haunt’ locations where they once lived. What we call ghosts are often discarnate entities, aspects of Awareness, who are still identifying themselves with the computer they once occupied and they live in a limbo-land dimension very close to this one … Instead of understanding what is happening at ‘death’ – when Infinite Awareness is released from the computer reality – ‘ghosts’ go on believing that the ‘earthly’ self is who they are. Some people call them ‘earthbound souls’ or ‘lost souls’. Such is the identification with the former computer ‘self’ that they manifest as a mental projection of what they once looked like in physical form. It is what they called in the Matrix movies ‘residual self-image’.” –David Icke, “The David Icke Guide to the Global Conspiracy” (21)

David Icke related an interesting story after the death of his mother.  Her funeral was due to begin at 11:30am the next week and every day before, during and even after the funeral several strange things happened.  At precisely 11:30am each day the electrical equipment, TV, watches and mobile phones in his house would turn themselves on and off.  One day emergency services called him at 11:31 and asked why he had just rung them, when of course he had done no such thing.

Often, a departed loved one will try to manifest signs to show that they have not ceased to be … When we are operating on other dimensions the easiest way to have an influence in this world is via electrical equipment through a vibrational connection that affects electrical circuitry. People can stop watches by projecting their thoughts because thoughts are electrical and vibrational phenomena – hence ‘brainwaves’ – and they can be used to block the watch’s electrical circuits. Such thought waves can also be projected from other dimensions into this one and have a similar effect. When this happens people will often say that a place is ‘haunted’.”  –David Icke, “The David Icke Guide to the Global Conspiracy” (27)

In November 1967 in a haunted Rosenheim, Bavaria law office some of the best documented ghost/poltergeist activity was witnessed by over forty scientists and professionals.  Over several days they recorded paranormal phenomena such as loud sounds from unknown sources, pictures on walls spinning around 360 degrees, light-bulbs dimming then brightening and exploding, electrical equipment spontaneously starting up or breaking down, and objects moving or falling without anyone touching them.  Also in 1967 American researchers Gaither Pratt and William Roll witnessed and recorded 224 accounts of paranormal activity at a warehouse in Miami, Florida.  Over and over they watched as books and boxes slid around and bottles and glasses flew, dropped and shattered all by themselves.

One time I watched Julio place a ceramic alligator on a shelf when a glass four feet behind him fell to the floor and shattered. Both his hands were occupied; in the right he held the alligator, in the left his clipboard. The two other workers in the room were more than 15 feet from the glass. They could not have picked it up previously and then thrown it because we had placed the glass on the shelf ourselves and no one had been near it since then. The glass was among ten targets we had set out that moved when one or both of us had the area under surveillance and when we were the first to enter the area after the incident. The incident was also among seven when Pratt or I had Julio in direct view at the time.”  -William Roll, “Poltergeists, Electromagnetism, and Consciousness”

Spiritism, séances and mediums, due to an unfortunate history of hacks, quacks and hoaxes, have long been discounted and dismissed as mere tricks and illusions.  Mixed in with the conniving charlatans, however, have been many famous, scientifically verified and documented cases of actual contact with discarnate entities.  Mediums such as Eusapia Palladino, Daniel Douglas Home, Gordon Smith and many others have repeatedly produced paranormal phenomena witnessed by teams of scientists and experienced researchers, phenomena including touches from invisible hands, discarnate voices and sounds, apparitions, psychokinesis, levitation and manifestations.

There is no question that at the time when spiritism enjoyed its greatest popularity, around the turn of the century, many participants were victims of cunning swindlers … However, we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater and conclude that this entire area is nothing but fraud. It is difficult to imagine that so many outstanding researchers would have invested so much time and energy in a field with no real phenomena to observe. There exists hardly any other realm where the expert testimony of so many witnesses of the highest caliber has been discounted as stupidity and gullibility and thus written off. We have to realize that among serious researchers were many people with outstanding credentials, such as, the famous physicist Sir William Crookes, the Nobel Prize-winning physician and physiologist Charles Richet, and Sir Oliver Lodge, a Fellow of the Royal Society in England.”  -Stanislav Grof, “The Holotropic Mind” (177-8)

University of Arizona psychiatry professor Gary Schwartz has performed laboratory studies of several mediums and recorded the results in his book “The Afterlife Experiment: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death” and over 450 other scientific papers on the subject.  In experiments carefully controlled to eliminate fraud or cheating, several mediums were able to produce over 80 bits of information about deceased relatives such as names, jobs, appearance, personal stories, and the nature of death.  Combined the mediums averaged an astonishing accuracy rate of 83%.  Gary Schwartz and his team concluded that “the most parsimonious explanation is that the mediums are in direct communication with the deceased.”

Tested in Glasgow by Roy and Robertson, British medium Gordon Smith performed with the greatest accuracy of anyone yet measured.  He achieved 98 percent success rate with his information deemed specific and accurate under the tight experimental protocol … When asked what, in his view, is his most convincing proof of the continuation of human consciousness beyond the brain, he told of a particular case that he’d been involved with.  A woman, Sally, had come to see him in great distress to ask if he could help her find her missing son.  Without her providing any other information, Smith was able to contact her son, who told him that his name was Blake and what his mother would find out ‘she wouldn’t like’ – a message that was sadly true.  He went on to say that he had been a soldier training in France when, after a night out, he had been accidentally killed.  He described to Smith the river where his body now lay.  All the personal details were correct.  A year later, a human thigh bone was found in the exact place where Blake had told Smith he would be.  And when the DNA was tested, it proved to belong to Sally’s dead son.”  -Ervin Laszlo and Jude Currivan, “Cosmos” (151-2)

 

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Psychedelic Death and Rebirth

American medical doctor and psychiatrist, Rick Strassman, has been working diligently to improve our understanding of entheogens, specifically dimethyltryptamine or DMT.  In 1990 Dr. Strassman broke a 20 year prohibition on psychedelic experiments in America when he began his work giving intravenous doses of the world’s strongest psychedelic to patients and volunteers.  Like Dr. Grof’s LSD subjects, Dr. Strassman’s DMT subjects found the experience to be overwhelmingly positive with a myriad of long-term benefits.

Volunteers reported a stronger sense of self, less fear of death, and greater appreciation of life. Some found they were better able to relax, and they pushed themselves a little less. Several volunteers drank less alcohol or noted they were more sensitive to psychedelic drugs. Others believed with greater certainty that there are different levels of reality.”  -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (274)

DMT is such a powerful psychedelic that it completely melts away the veil of this reality and transports consciousness into an entirely other dimension occupied by everything from advice-giving telepathic rainbows to body-snatching demonic gremlins.  Whether your eyes stay open or closed, these so-called “hallucinations” completely immerse and ensconce themselves into your consciousness taking you out of your body and often out of this world.  The effects then wear off after about 10 minutes when smoked, 30 minutes when injected, and after 3-4 hours when made into Ayahuasca tea.

Dr. Strassman’s patients said in the long-term their DMT experiences made them more open-minded and laid-back, caused their thoughts and feelings to be better integrated and overlap more, lessened their fear of death, and gave them “a more real sense of connectedness to everything and everyone.”  One of his patients named Elena said, “most of my experiences fade with time.  Not so with DMT.  Outside me, not much is different.  Inside, I rest in the comfort of knowing my soul is eternal and my consciousness endless.”  Another patient, Cleo, related how during her DMT trip, a cascading rainbow of colors telepathically communicated with her, telling her that she had been looking for God outside, but instead to go in, that God was in every cell of her body: “The colors kept telling me things, but they were telling me things so I not only heard what I was seeing, but also felt it in my cells.  I say ‘felt,’ but it was like no other ‘felt,’ more like a knowing that was happening in my cells. That God is in everything and that we are all connected, and that God dances in every cell of life, and that every cell of life dances in God.  I am changed. I will never be the same. To simply say this almost seems to lessen the experience. I don’t think that anyone hearing or reading this can truly grasp what I felt, can really understand it deeply and completely.  The euphoria goes on into eternity. And I am part of that eternity.”

Due to all the miraculous, revelatory, and other-worldly experiences shared by his DMT subjects, Dr. Strassman dubbed dimethyltryptamine “the spirit molecule.”  The parallels between classic mystical or “spiritual” experiences and what people experienced with the “spirit molecule” were too similar to ignore: During both DMT trips and mystical experiences time, space, and matter all become secondary to consciousness.  The separation between self/non-self disappears and personal identity fades into identification with all of existence.  Past, present and future all meld together into one timeless moment of eternity.  Space is no longer here or there but everywhere as one.  There is only here now and travel happens at the speed of thought.

In altered states of consciousness this new perception of the world becomes dominant and compelling.  It completely overrides the everyday illusion of Newtonian reality, where we seem to be ‘skin-encapsulated egos’ existing in a world of separate beings and objects.  In extreme forms of transpersonal perception we can experience ourselves as the whole biosphere of our planet or the entire material universe.”  -Stanislav Grof, “The Holotropic Mind” (88)

Further to their revelatory and spiritual experiences, many of Dr. Strassman’s patients also reported experiencing a typical NDE while under DMT.  They felt themselves lift out of their bodies, saw and entered tunnels of light, heard celestial music and encountered angels or light beings, felt absolute peace and painlessness and were reluctant to come back into their bodies.  For example, one of his patients, Willow, described her experience saying, “First I saw a tunnel or channel of light off to the right … There was a sound like music, like a score, but unfamiliar to me, supporting the emotional tone of the events and drawing me in … There were large beings in the tunnel, on the right side, next to me … It was so much more real than life … I felt strongly, ‘This is dying and this is okay’ … I had a sense of dying, letting go and separating, after the beings in the tunnel helped me along. … It’s like a cosmic joke. If we all knew what was waiting for us, we’d all kill ourselves. That’s why we stay in this form for so long, to figure that out.  Everyone should try a high dose of DMT once … That place is so full and so complete … when I came back into my body it was so heavy and so confining.”

Her consciousness separated from her body, she moved rapidly through a tunnel, or tunnels, toward a warm, loving, all-knowing white light. Beings helped her on the way, and some even threatened to drag her down. Beautiful music accompanied her on the early stages of the journey. Time and space lost all meaning. She was tempted not to return, but realized she needed to share the incredible information she received with this world … Her comment about everyone committing suicide if they knew how great the ‘afterlife’ is points out another similarity between Willow’s experiences and those of ‘naturally occurring’ NDEs: That is, those who have had an NDE do not rush off to suicide. Rather, they reside in the knowledge that there is ‘life after death,’ and that transition loses its sting. Thus, they are able to live life more fully, because the fear of death that drives so many to distraction is now so much less.”  -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (226)

As mentioned earlier many entheogens have long been known to induce the death-rebirth experience and none are stronger than DMT.  Several of Dr. Strassman’s patients reported experiencing phenomena similar to what is outlined in the The Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead, ancient texts regarding the process of death and the various states of consciousness the soul passes through on its afterlife journey.  Elena shared that, “more than once the DMT sessions gave me the gift of truly subjectively knowing the phenomenon described in ‘Introductions to the Dead’ in The Tibetan Book of the Dead.”  Another of Dr. Strassman’s patients, Eli, said, “I relaxed and the environment began to change noticeably.  I knew I was going through the first bardo of death, that I had been here many times before and it was okay … I had broken out of time and space … I no longer fear death.  It’s like you’re there one minute and then you’re somewhere else, and that’s just how it is … These experiments are helping me in my reading of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.  I know what it’s like to be totally free.”  Another patient, Joseph, noted, “I think the high dose is like death trauma.  It knocks you out of your body … This would be a good drug for people in a hospice program or the terminally ill to have some acquaintance with.”

One of the most incredible facts about DMT is that it is endogenous to humans and produced by our pineal glands.  The pineal gland, the only unpaired organ in the brain is located at the geometric center of the head between the eyebrows.  This mystical point, focused on during meditation, symbolized by the Hindu “bindi,” is what Descartes famously called “the seat of the soul.”  It is also known as the “third-eye” because it can sense light and in certain birds, amphibians, and reptiles it even has a lens, cornea and retina.  So why is this death-rebirth-inducing strongest psychedelic in the world produced inside our pineal glands?  What exactly is its function?

DMT is closely related to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that psychedelics affect so widely. The pharmacology of DMT is similar to that of other well-known psychedelics. It affects receptor sites for serotonin in much the same way that LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline do. These serotonin receptors are widespread throughout the body and can be found in blood vessels, muscle, glands, and skin.  However, the brain is where DMT exerts its most interesting effects.  There, sites rich in these DMT-sensitive serotonin receptors are involved in mood, perception, and thought. Although the brain denies access to most drugs and chemicals, it takes a particular and remarkable fancy to DMT. It is not stretching the truth to suggest that the brain ‘hungers’ for it.”  -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (52)

In human embryos the pineal gland becomes visible and releases its first burst of DMT 49 days after conception.  This is also the exact moment when an embryo becomes a fetus and the gender of the baby is determined.  At birth there is another burst of DMT, then regularly every night for the rest of our lives during REM sleep our pineal glands excrete DMT and “trip” us out into various dream states.  Finally the last and largest DMT burst of our lives happens at the moment of physical death.

The human pineal gland becomes visible in the developing fetus at seven weeks, or forty-nine days, after conception. Of great interest to me was finding out that this is nearly exactly the moment in which one can clearly see the first indication of male or female gender. Before this time, the sex of the fetus is indeterminate, or unknown. Thus, the pineal gland and the most important differentiation of humanity, male and female gender, appear at the same time … When our individual life force enters our fetal body, the moment in which we become truly human, it passes through the pineal and triggers the first primordial flood of DMT.  Later, at birth, the pineal releases more DMT. In some of us, pineal DMT mediates the pivotal experiences of deep meditation, psychosis, and near-death experiences.  As we die, the life-force leaves the body through the pineal gland, releasing another flood of this psychedelic spirit molecule.”  -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (61-9)

Traditional Chinese funerals are 49 days long.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead states that it takes 49 days for a recently deceased soul to travel from one physical body into the next.  It also contains 49 days worth of specific passages for friends and family to read aloud to assist the deceased in their transition.  49 days after Easter is Pentecost, the day when “tongues of fire” came into the temple and rested upon the heads of the elders.  Symbolically this could mean their crown chakras were illuminated, pineal glands functioning, and the spirit came down unto them, just as literally 49 days after conception, the fetal pineal gland begins functioning and the gender is determined.  Are these 49s all just a coincidence or is this mystical number the time it takes for deceased souls to reincarnate?  The Catholic Church celebrates the “Immaculate Conception” on December 8th, exactly 9 months before Mary’s birthday, and celebrates the Incarnation of Christ on March 25th, exactly 9 months before Christmas.  Is this why the death and conception of Jesus can happen simultaneously?  Because we are all re-conceived (reincarnated) at the moment of our deaths and 49 days later our soul enters the embryo through a burst of pineal DMT?

I already knew that the Tibetan Buddhist Book of the Dead teaches that it takes forty-nine days for the soul of the recently dead to ‘reincarnate.’  That is, seven weeks from the time of death of one person elapses until the life-force’s ‘rebirth’ into its next body. I remember very clearly, several years later, feeling the chill along my spine when, reading my textbook of human fetal development, I discovered this same forty-nine day interval marking two landmark events in human embryo formation. It takes forty-nine days from conception for the first signs of the human pineal to appear. Forty-nine days is also when the fetus differentiates into male or female gender. Thus the soul’s rebirth, the pineal, and the sexual organs all require forty-nine days before they manifest … [Then] as we die, if near-death experiences are any indication, there is a profound shift in consciousness away from identification with the body.  Pineal DMT makes available those particular non-embodied contents of consciousness. All the factors previously described combine for one final burst of DMT production: catecholamine release; decreased breakdown and increased formation of DMT; reduced anti-DMT; and decomposing pineal tissue. Therefore, it may be that the pineal is the most active organ in the body at the time of death. Might we say that the life-force therefore exits the body through the pineal?”  -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (81-2)

It seems very likely that our souls enter and exit physical bodies via the pineal gland (third-eye).  Robert Monroe, Robert Bruce and other out-of-body experts have reported the third-eye as the main contact point where consciousness enters or exits the physical body during OBEs.  Several near-death experiencers talk about the “silver cord,” a long, bright, elastic cable of light which extends from the third-eye of their physical body attached to their disembodied consciousness wherever it goes.  Rene Descartes noticed he could only think one thought at a time and guessed it must be the pineal gland, the only singular, unpaired organ in the brain responsible for these singular, unpaired thoughts.  He even went so far as to call it “the seat of the soul” which certainly concurs with Dr. Strassman’s findings.  Both intravenous DMT injections and endogenous pineal DMT conclusively cause out-of-body near-death experiences and play a key role in the birth-death process.

While the release of neuroprotective compounds near death certainly is a useful response, the psychedelic side effects are not as obviously beneficial. We must therefore wonder, are these spiritual properties a coincidence, or do they have a purpose?  I suggest that near-death chemicals released by the brain are psychedelic for this reason: They must be. It is similar to asking why there is silicon in computer chips. Silicon works. It does the job. Near-death brain products are psychedelic because those are the properties consciousness requires at that time.  Psychedelic compounds released near death mediate consciousness exiting the body. This is their function and this is what they do. DMT is a spirit molecule, just as silicon is a chip molecule. Rather than just causing the mind to feel as if it were leaving the body, DMT release is the means by which the mind senses the departure of the life-force from it, the content of consciousness as it leaves the body.”  -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (326)

Activation and opening of the transpersonal area in the unconscious of dying individuals can have far-reaching consequences for their concepts of death, their attitudes toward the situation they are facing, and their abilities to accept physical mortality … Those who see themselves as an insignificant and impermanent speck of dust in an immense universe become open to the possibility that the dimensions of their own beings are commensurate with the macrocosm and microcosm. Consciousness here appears as a primary characteristic of existence, preceding matter and supraordinated to it, rather than being a product of physiological processes in the brain. It seems to be quite plausible that consciousness and awareness are essentially independent of the gross matter of the body and brain, and will continue beyond the point of physical demise. This alternative is experienced in a way that is at least as complex, vivid, and self-evident as the perception of reality in usual states of consciousness. The transcendental impact of these experiences is usually stronger in those individuals who, prior to entering the transpersonal realms, went through the experience of ego death and rebirth. The memory that consciousness emerged intact from this seemingly final annihilation constitutes a powerful emotional and cognitive model for understanding the process of actual death.”  -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (56-7)

 

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Altered States of Consciousness

For millennia going back through the Greek, Egyptian and Vedic civilizations, the Aboriginals, the Mayan, the American Indians and various tribal societies, back to the most ancient cave and rock art worldwide we see proof that our ancestors had an intimate and extensive knowledge of both altered states of consciousness and the indigenous entheogenic plants which help induce them.  Ayahuasca, Ibogaine, Peyote, Magic Mushrooms and many other so-called “psychedelics” have long-standing histories, traditions and entire religions based around these sacraments. Nowadays due to intrusive and oppressive governments and their unlawful legal systems, the possession and use of most such entheogens has been outlawed.  And along with these plants, the altered states of consciousness achieved by their ingestion have also become outlawed.

In ancient societies and tribal cultures around the world their entheogenic sacraments have been referred to with names such as the “plant of souls,” “the vine of death,” or “the seeds of re-birth.”  They have often been symbolized by the phoenix rising from its own ashes or the coiled serpent eating its own tail.  This is because a strong dose of certain entheogens essentially puts you through the entire death and rebirth experience.  Your soul slowly separates from your physical body, detaches from this physical reality and gets a glimpse at the higher frequencies of the alterlife realm.

In the Central African countries of Gabon, Cameroon and Zaire certain age-old ancestor cults still flourish in the twenty-first century.  Their members share a common belief, based they say on direct experience, in the existence of a supernatural realm where the spirits of the dead may be contacted.  Like some hypothetical dimension of quantum physics, this otherworld interpenetrates our own and yet cannot ordinarily be seen or verified by empirical tests.  It is therefore a matter of great interest, with highly suggestive implications, that tribal shamans claim to have mastered a means, through the consumption of a poisonous shrub known locally as eboka or iboga, by which humans may reach the otherworld and return alive.”  -Graham Hancock, “Supernatural” (5)

That these inner regions have been well traveled by shamanic peoples is evidenced by an experience anthropologist Michael Harner had among the Conibo Indians of the Peruvian Amazon.  In 1960 the American Museum of Natural History sent Harner on a year-long expedition to study the Conibo, and while there he asked the Amazonian natives to tell him about their religious beliefs.  They told him that if he really wished to learn, he had to take a shamanic sacred drink made from a hallucinogenic plant known as ayahuasca, the ‘soul vine.’  He agreed and after drinking the bitter concoction had an out-of-body experience in which he traveled to a level of reality populated by what appeared to be the gods and devils of the Conibo’s mythology.  He saw demons with grinning crocodilian heads.  He watched as an ‘energy-essence’ rose up out of his chest and floated toward a dragon-headed ship manned by Egyptian-style figures with blue-jay heads; and he felt what he thought was the slow, advancing numbness of his own death … Is it possible that what we have been viewing as quaint folklore and charming but naïve mythology are actually sophisticated accounts of the cartography of the subtler levels of reality?  Kalweit for one believes the answer is an emphatic yes.  ‘In light of the revolutionary findings of recent research into the nature of dying and death, we can no longer look upon tribal religions and their ideas about the World of the Dead as limited conceptions,’ he says.  ‘[Rather] the shaman should be considered as a most up-to-date and knowledgeable psychologist.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (267-8)

Whether through entheogens, dreams, meditation, chanting, fasting, rhythmic dancing or drumming, sensory overload or deprivation, the pre-requisite for accessing the nether-realms of the implicate order, the key to so-called “paranormal” or “supernatural” abilities, always lies in altered states of consciousness.  By using various methods to shift awareness from the typical five-sense physical realm, our minds are able to access these higher frequencies and facets of consciousness well-known to our shamanic ancestors.

Various techniques are used by a culture to expand the consciousness of an initiate by reducing or eliminating the psychological defenses that separate the world of the supernatural from the world of everyday reality. Such techniques include sleep deprivation, fasting, body mutilation, sonic and photic driving, social isolation, hyperactivity, group pressure, suggestion, and, in some cases, psychedelic substances.”  -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (192)

Czech medical doctor and psychiatrist, VISION 97 award winner, and founder of transpersonal psychology, Stanislav Grof has been working for the better part of five decades to improve the world’s understanding of psychedelics.  In his research Dr. Grof distinguishes between two pillar states of consciousness he refers to as hylotropic and holotropic.  The normal, everyday experience of consensus reality is hylotropic whereas interpersonal states reflecting the wholeness and totality of existence are holotropic.  In Vedic terms, Dr. Grof relates hylotropic consciousness to “namarupa” (name and form), the separate, individual, and ultimately illusory ego self, while holotropic consciousness relates to Atman-Brahman, the soul essence and divine true nature of the self.

All the cultures in human history except the Western industrial civilization have held holotropic states of consciousness in great esteem. They induced them whenever they wanted to connect to their deities, other dimensions of reality, and with the forces of nature. They also used them for diagnosing and healing, cultivation of extrasensory perception, and artistic inspiration. They spent much time and energy to develop safe and effective ways of inducing them … In one of my early books I suggested that the potential significance of LSD and other psychedelics for psychiatry and psychology was comparable to the value the microscope has for biology or the telescope has for astronomy. My later experience with psychedelics only confirmed this initial impression. These substances function as unspecific amplifiers that increase the cathexis (energetic charge) associated with the deep unconscious contents of the psyche and make them available for conscious processing. This unique property of psychedelics makes it possible to study psychological undercurrents that govern our experiences and behaviours to a depth that cannot be matched by any other method and tool available in modern mainstream psychiatry and psychology. In addition, it offers unique opportunities for healing of emotional and psychosomatic disorders, for positive personality transformation, and consciousness evolution.”  -Stanislav Grof

Since the 1970s Dr. Grof has been using the psychedelic acid LSD with patients and volunteers in a clinical setting.  The extraordinary results these sessions have had on people include: curing psychopathy, narcissism, character disorders and sexual deviations, overcoming addictions, alleviating physical or emotion pain, and dramatically changing concepts and attitudes toward death.  In many cases people had spontaneous glimpses of transpersonal, collective consciousness during which their awareness expanded beyond the normal boundaries of the ego and experienced what it was like to be other living beings, animals, plants, and objects.  More than just an “out-of-body experience,” the LSD often induced an “into-someone-or-something-else’s-body experience.”

The common denominator of this otherwise rich and ramified group is the individual’s feeling that his or her consciousness has expanded beyond the usual ego boundaries and has transcended the limitations of time and space. In ‘normal’ or usual state of consciousness, individuals experience themselves as existing within the boundaries of the physical body, and their perception of the environment is restricted by the physically determined range of the exteroceptors. Both internal perception (interoception) and perception of the environment (exteroception) are confined within the usual space-time boundaries. Under ordinary circumstances individuals vividly perceive their present situation and their immediate environment; they recall past events and anticipate the future or fantasize about it. In transpersonal experiences occurring in psychedelic sessions, one or several of the above limitations appear to be transcended. In some instances individuals experience loosening of their usual ego boundaries; their consciousness and self-awareness seem to expand to include and encompass other people as well as elements of the external world. They can also continue experiencing their own identities, but at a different time, in a different place, or in a different context. In yet other cases people can experience a complete loss of their own ego identities and feel full identification with the consciousness of some other individual, animal, or even inanimate object.”  -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (54-5)

Many of Dr. Grof’s patients were able to tap into the consciousness of relatives, ancestors, and historical personages.  For example one woman experienced what it was like to be her own mother at age three and re-lived a traumatic event from her childhood.  She even gave such a precise description of her surroundings, the people, and the event, that it shocked her mother into admitting and confirming the incident which she had never shared with anyone.  Another one of Dr. Grof’s patients suddenly became convinced she was a prehistoric reptile and provided intricate details about how it felt to have her consciousness contained in such a form, like how she found the patch of colored scales on the side of the males’ heads to be sexually arousing – a fact later confirmed by zoologists as being an important mating trigger in certain reptiles.  Another patient suddenly found themselves in ancient Egypt and gave a complete account of their techniques of embalming and mummification including specifics like the size and shape of mummy bandages, a list of all the materials used, and the form and meaning of the amulets and sepulchral boxes seen during Egyptian funeral services.

Other patients gave equally accurate descriptions of events that had befallen ancestors who had lived decades and even centuries before.  Other experiences included the accessing of racial and collective memories.  Individuals of Slavic origin experienced what it was like to participate in the conquests of Genghis Khan’s Mongolian hordes, to dance in trance with the Kalahari bushmen, to undergo the initiation rites of the Australian aborigines, and to die as sacrificial victims of the Aztecs.  And again the descriptions frequently contained obscure historical facts and a degree of knowledge that was often completely at odds with the patient’s education, race, and previous exposure to the subject … There did not seem to be any limit to what Grof’s LSD subjects could tap into.  They seemed capable of knowing what it was like to be every animal, and even plant, on the tree of evolution.  They could experience what it was like to be a blood cell, an atom, a thermonuclear process inside the sun, the consciousness of the entire planet, and even the consciousness of the entire cosmos.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (68-9)

In one remarkable case, Dr. Grof’s patient found himself in a dimension inhabited by thousands of luminescent discarnate beings.  One of them communicated with him telepathically and pleaded with him to contact a couple in the Moravian city of Kromeriz and tell them that their son Ladislav was well taken care of and doing just fine.  He was even given their names, street address and telephone number.  When Dr. Grof himself called the number, he asked to speak with Ladislav and the woman on the phone began to cry and said “our son is not with us any more; he passed away, we lost him three weeks ago.”

We are now beginning to learn that Western science might have been a little premature in making its condemning and condescending judgments about ancient systems of thought. Reports describing subjective experiences of clinical death, if studied carefully and with an open mind, contain ample evidence that various eschatological mythologies represent actual maps of unusual states of consciousness experienced by dying individuals. Psychedelic research conducted in the last two decades has resulted in important phenomenological and neurophysiological data indicating that experiences involving complex mythological, religious, and mystical sequences before, during, and after death might well represent clinical reality.”  -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (159)

Shortly after his third LSD session, one of Dr. Grof’s patients actually got into a bad accident during which he went through a typical near-death experience.  Afterwards he stated that he found the experience of actually dying to be “extremely similar” to his psychedelic experiences.  He emphasized how glad he was to have had the three LSD sessions before his accident because they were excellent training and preparation.  “Without the sessions,” he said, “I would have been scared by what was happening, but knowing these states, I was not afraid at all.”

Individuals who have suffered through the death-rebirth phenomenon in their psychedelic sessions usually become open to the possibility that consciousness might be independent of the physical body and continue beyond the moment of clinical death. This insight can be quite different from or even contrary to previous religious and philosophical beliefs. Those who were previously convinced that death was the ultimate defeat and meant the end of any form of existence discovered various alternatives to this materialistic and pragmatic point of view. They came to realize how little conclusive evidence there is for any authoritative opinion in this matter and often began seeing death and dying as a cosmic voyage into the unknown.”  -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (52)

I have personally experimented with LSD and other entheogens periodically and have always found the experiences to be very healing and transformative.  They have shown me directly how consciousness can exist outside the physical body, how we can see and hear without using our eyes and ears, they have taken me deep into my subconscious, exposed the illusion of personal identity, and given me a momentary but timeless experience of perfect bliss, contentment and complete at-one-ment with all that is.  I remember telling my friend once during a mushroom trip, “I can’t believe there aren’t whole religions based around this experience!”  Little did I know there are indeed many religions throughout the world based around the ingestion of an entheogenic sacrament.

LSD subjects often arrive at the conclusion that no real boundaries exist between themselves and the rest of the universe. Everything appears to be part of a unified field of cosmic energy, and the boundaries of the individual are identical with the boundaries of existence itself. From this perspective the distinction between the ordinary and the sacred disappears, and the individual – who essentially is the universe – becomes sacralized. The universe is seen as an ever-unfolding drama of endless adventures in consciousness, very much in the sense of the Hindu lila, or divine play. Against the background of this infinitely complex and eternal cosmic drama, the fact of impending individual destruction seems to lose its tragic significance. In this situation death as we frequently see it – the end of everything, the ultimate catastrophe – ceases to exist. It is now understood as a transition in consciousness, a shift to another level or form of existence.”  -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (57-8)

 

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Death in the Holographic Universe

Several Near-Death Experience researchers such as Dr. Kenneth Ring, author of “Life at Death,” have pointed out that the Holographic Universe model offers a way of understanding these experiences as ventures into the more frequency-like aspects of reality.  For instance, many patients describe their experiences as entering a realm of “higher vibrations,” or “frequencies,” where everything is made of light and sound.  The sounds are described as “celestial music” more like a “combination of vibrations” than actual sounds, and the lights are described as “more brilliant than any on Earth,” but despite their intensity do not hurt the eyes.  Dr. Ring believes these and other observations provide evidence that the act of dying involves our consciousness being shifted away from the ordinary explicate world of appearances into the implicate holographic reality of pure frequency.

Ring is not alone in his speculations.  In the keynote address for the 1989 meeting of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS), Dr. Elizabeth W. Fenske, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Philadelphia, announced that she, too, believes that NDEs are journeys into a holographic realm of higher frequencies.  She agrees with Ring’s hypothesis that the landscapes, flowers, physical structures, and so forth, of the afterlife dimension are fashioned out of interacting (or interfering) thought patterns.  ‘I think we’ve come to the point in NDE research where it’s difficult to make a distinction between thought and light.  In the near-death experience thought seems to be light,’ she observes.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (246)

Another decidedly “holographic” feature of NDEs is the commonly repeated notion that, in the afterlife realm, time and space as we know them cease to exist.  NDErs have reported that, “it has to be out of time and space.  It must be, because the experience cannot be put into a time thing” and “I found myself in a space, in a period of time, I would say, where all space and time was negated.”  It seems inside this 4 dimensional holographic universe our consciousness experiences the explicate movement of space and the passage of time using a holographic physical body to navigate.  Outside the hologram, however, consciousness experiences the implicate at-one-ment of all space, time, and matter.  Many have reported that in the afterlife realm they didn’t even have a body unless they were thinking.  One NDEr said, “If I stopped thinking I was merely a cloud in an endless cloud, undifferentiated.  But as soon as I started to think, I became myself.

In addition to those mentioned by Ring and Fenske, the NDE has numerous other features that are markedly holographic.  Like OBEers, after NDEers have detached from the physical they find themselves in one of two forms, either as a disembodied cloud of energy, or as a hologram-like body sculpted by thought.  When the latter is the case, the mind-created nature of the body is often surprisingly obvious to the NDEer.  For example, one near-death survivor says that when he first emerged from his body he looked ‘something like a jelly fish’ and fell lightly to the floor like a soap bubble.  Then he quickly expanded into a ghostly three-dimensional image of a naked man.  However, the presence of two women in the room embarrassed him and to his surprise, this feeling caused him suddenly to become clothed … That our innermost feelings and desires are responsible for creating the form we assume in the afterlife dimension is evident in the experiences of other NDEers.  People who are confined in wheelchairs in their physical existence find themselves in healthy bodies that can run and dance.  Amputees invariably have their limbs back.  The elderly often inhabit youthful bodies, and even stranger, children frequently see themselves as adults, a fact that may reflect every child’s fantasy to be a grown-up, or more profoundly, may be a symbolic indication that in our souls some of us are much older than we realize.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (246)

Perhaps the most holographic aspect of NDEs is the life review.  Dr. Ring calls it “a holographic phenomenon par excellence.”  Many NDErs themselves have used the term “holographic” to describe the experience. “It was an incredibly vivid, wrap-around, three-dimensional replay of my entire life,” said one NDEr, “It’s like climbing right inside a movie of your life,” said another.  “Every moment from every year of your life is played back in complete sensory detail.  Total, total recall.  And it all happens in an instant.  The whole thing was really odd.  I was there; I was actually seeing these flashbacks; I was actually walking through them, and it was so fast.  Yet, it was slow enough that I could take it all in.”  Thus the experience is holographic both in its panoramic three-dimensionality and also in its incredible capacity for information storage.  NDErs lucidly re-experience every single thought and emotion of not only their lives, but the thoughts and emotions of everyone else they ever came in contact with!  They feel the joy of people who they treated kindly and the pain of people they treated poorly.  No thought or emotion, theirs or anyone else’s they ever knew remains private.

In fact, the life review bares a marked resemblance to the afterlife judgment scenes described in the sacred texts of many of the world’s great religions, from the Egyptian to the Judeo-Christian, but with one crucial difference.  Like Whitton’s subjects, NDEers universally report that they are never judged by the beings of light, but feel only love and acceptance in their presence.  The only judgment that ever takes place is self-judgment and arises solely out of the NDEer’s own feelings of guilt and repentance.  Occasionally the beings do assert themselves, but instead of behaving in an authoritarian manner, they act as guides and counselors whose only purpose is to teach.  This total lack of cosmic judgment and/or any divine system of punishment and reward has been and continues to be one of the most controversial aspects of the NDE among religious groups, but it is one of the most oft reported features of the experience.  What is the explanation?  Moody believes it is as simple as it is polemic.  We live in a universe that is far more benevolent than we realize. That is not to say that anything goes during the life review.  Like Whitton’s hypnotic subjects, after arriving in the realm of light, NDEers appear to enter a state of heightened or meta-conscious awareness and become lucidly honest in their self-reflections.  It also does not mean that the beings of light prescribe no values.  In NDE after NDE they stress two things.  One is the importance of love.  Over and over they repeat this message, that we must learn to replace anger with love, learn to love more, learn to forgive and love everyone unconditionally, and learn that we in turn are loved.  This appears to be the only moral criterion the beings use.  The second thing the beings emphasize is knowledge.  Frequently NDEers comment that the beings seemed pleased whenever an incident involving knowledge or learning flickered by during their life review.  Some are openly counseled to embark on a quest for knowledge after they return to their physical bodies, especially knowledge related to self-growth or that enhances one’s ability to help other people.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (250)

Many dying individuals have reported encounters with other beings, such as dead relatives or friends, ‘guardian spirits,’ or spirit guides. Particularly common seem to be visions of a Being of Light, which usually appears as a source of unearthly light, radiant and brilliant, yet showing certain personal characteristics such as love, warmth, compassion, and a sense of humor. The communication with this Being occurs without words, through an unimpeded transfer of thoughts. In the context of this encounter or outside of it, the dying individual can experience a partial or total review of his or her life, which almost always involves vivid colors and a three-dimensional, dynamic form. The message from this experience seems to be the realization that learning to love other people and acquiring higher knowledge are the most important values in human life.” -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (154-5)

People on their death beds will often speak of seeing angels, deceased friends/family, seeing bright warm lights of love, or having their entire lives flash before their eyes.  These visions begin to reconcile traditional notions of “heaven” and the “afterlife” with the actual experiences of current and historical near-death  experiencers.  It appears the seeming finality of death truly is a physical phenomenon only and consciousness lives on forever.

I would like to commence this section by emphatically stating an extremely important truth which everyone should know and understand beyond any possible doubt: There really is no such state as ‘death.’  What many people believe to be the finality of ‘death’ is in fact no more and no less than the transition from one state of life and reality, that of the physical matter, to a state of life of a vastly finer density of the Universe.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (145)

 

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Historical Near-Death Experiences

Dr. Raymond Moody only recently coined the term “Near-Death Experience” in the 1970s, but the NDE phenomenon has a long-standing history with documented examples going back thousands of years.

Like OBEs, NDEs appear to be a universal phenomenon.  They are described at length in both the eighth-century Tibetan Book of the Dead and the 2,500 year-old Egyptian Book of the Dead.  In Book X of The Republic Plato gives a detailed account of a Greek soldier named Er, who came alive just seconds before his funeral pyre was to be lit and said that he had left his body and went through a ‘passageway’ to the land of the dead.  The venerable Bede gives a similar account in his eighth-century work A History of the English Church and People, and, in fact, in her recent book Otherworld Journeys Carol Zaleski, a lecturer on the study of religion at Harvard, points out that medieval literature is filled with accounts of NDEs.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (240)

In Book X of The Republic, Plato recounted the story of a Greek soldier named Er who died on the battlefield and came back to life almost ten days later just as his body was about to be incinerated.  Er awoke with a start and began describing what he had seen on the other side.  He said his soul left his physical body and joined with a group of other spirits who led him upwards through a “passage way” (tunnel?) to the afterlife.  There the other souls were taken by divine light beings and shown detailed life reviews.  Er himself was shown many sights, but not his life review, and was ultimately sent back and told to inform others on Earth about what he experienced in the afterlife realm.  Amazingly this two and a half thousand year old story sounds exactly like modern NDE accounts.

According to Plato, the soul comes into the physical body from a higher and more divine realm of being., For him it is birth which is the sleeping and the forgetting, since the soul, in being born into the body, goes from a state of great awareness to a much less conscious one and in the meantime forgets the truths it knew while in its previous out-of-body state. Death, by implication, is an awakening and remembering. Plato remarks that the soul that has been separated from the body upon death can think and reason even more clearly than before, and that it can recognize things in their true nature far more readily. Furthermore, soon after death it faces a ‘judgment’ in which a divine being displays before the soul all the things – both good and bad – which it has done in its life and makes the soul face them.” –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life” (46)

Plato’s mentor Socrates’ belief in the afterlife was so strong that he actually looked forward to his own death with curiosity and excitement.  Socrates said that death was simply the separation of soul from body and an awakening from “illusion to reality,” this 5-sense world being the illusion, and “reality” existing on the higher non-physical planes.  This is consistent also with the Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead which suggest that immediately following death we assume a “ka” or “bardo” spiritual body which transcends the ordinary limitations of time, space, and matter.

In the Tibetan account the mind or soul of the dying person departs from the body. At some time thereafter his soul enters a ‘swoon’ and he finds himself in a void – not a physical void, but one which is, in effect, subject to its own kind of limits, and one in which his consciousness still exists. He may hear alarming and disturbing noises and sounds, described as roaring, thundering, and whistling noises, like the wind, and usually finds himself and his surroundings enveloped in a grey, misty illumination.  He is surprised to find himself out of his physical body. He sees and hears his relatives and friends mourning over his body and preparing it for the funeral and yet when he tries to respond to them they neither hear nor see him. He does not yet realize that he is dead, and he is confused. He asks himself whether he is dead or not, and, when he finally realizes that he is, wonders where he should go or what he should do. A great regret comes over him, and he is depressed about his state. For a while he remains near the places with which he has been familiar while in physical life. He notices that he is still in a body-called the ‘shining’ body – which does not appear to consist of material substance. Thus, he can go through rocks, walls, and even mountains without encountering any resistance. Travel is almost instantaneous. Wherever he wishes to be, he arrives there in only a moment. His thought and perception are less limited; his mind becomes very lucid and his senses seem more keen and more perfect and closer in nature to the divine. If he has been in physical life blind or deaf or crippled, he is surprised to find that in his ‘shining’ body all his senses, as well as all the powers of his physical body, have been restored and intensified. He may encounter other beings in the same kind of body, and may meet what is called a clear or pure light. The Tibetans counsel the dying one approaching this light to try to have only love and compassion towards others.  The book also describes the feelings of immense peace and contentment which the dying one experiences, and also a kind of ‘mirror’ in which his entire life, all deeds both good and bad, are reflected for both him and the beings judging him to see vividly. In this situation, there can be no misrepresentation; lying about one’s life is impossible.  In short, even though The Tibetan Book of the Dead includes many later stages of death which none of my subjects have gone so far as to experience, it is quite obvious that there is a striking similarity between the account in this ancient manuscript and the events which have been related to me by twentieth-century Americans.” –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life” (48)

The Bible also contains stories of typical near-death experiences such as Paul on the road to Damascus.  Paul was a persecutor of Christians until receiving his famous vision and conversion.  Acts 26 describes how Paul saw a “light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me.”  He then heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him asking “why persecutest thou me?”  The voice then tells Paul that he has appeared to him for a purpose, to make him a minister and a witness of God.

This episode obviously bears some resemblance to the encounter with the being of light in near death experiences. First of all, the being is endowed with personality, though no physical form is seen, and a ‘voice’ which asks a question and issues instructions emanates from it. When Paul tries to’ tell others, he is mocked and labeled as ‘insane.’ Nonetheless, the vision changed the course of his life: He henceforth became the leading proponent of Christianity as a way of life, entailing love of others.” –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life” (44)

1 Corinthians 15 gets even more specific regarding the life after death state.  It is asked “How are the dead raised up?  And with what body do they come?” to which it is answered that there are both terrestrial bodies and celestial bodies, natural bodies and spiritual bodies.  In death, the scripture says “we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye … the dead shall be raised incorruptible.”

Interestingly, Paul’s brief sketch of the nature of the ‘spiritual body’ corresponds very well with the accounts of those who have found themselves out of their bodies. In all cases, the immateriality of the spiritual body – its lack of physical substance – is stressed, as are its lack of limitations. Paul says, for example, that whereas the physical body was weak and ugly, the spiritual body will be strong and beautiful. This reminds one of the account of a near-death experience in which the spiritual body seemed whole and complete even when the physical body could be seen to be mutilated, and of another in which the spiritual body seemed to be of no particular age, i.e., not limited by time.” –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life” (44-5)

In 1688, the “Leonardo da Vinci of his era,” Swedish mystic Swedenborg was born.  He spoke nine languages and was a successful mathematician, politician, astronomer and businessman.  He built watches and microscopes, invented prototypes for the submarine and airplane, and wrote books on diverse subjects ranging from physics and chemistry to color theory and metallurgy.

Throughout all of this he also meditated regularly, and when he reached middle age, developed the ability to enter deep trances during which he left his body and visited what appeared to him to be heaven and conversed with ‘angels’ and ‘spirits.’  That Swedenborg was experiencing something profound during these journeys, there can be no doubt.  He became so famous for this ability that the queen of Sweden asked him to find out why her deceased brother had neglected to respond to a letter she had sent him before his death.  Swedenborg promised to consult the deceased and the next day returned with a message which the queen confessed contained information only she and her dead brother knew.  Swedenborg performed this service several times for various individuals who sought his help, and on another occasion told a widow where to find a secret compartment in her deceased husband’s desk in which she found some desperately needed documents.  So well known was this latter incident that it inspired the German philosopher Immanuel Kant to write an entire book on Swedenborg entitled Dreams of a Spirit-Seer.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (257-8)

Swedenborg’s descriptions of his out of body experiences in the afterlife realm, just like Plato’s, the Bible’s, and the Egyptian/Tibetan Books of the Dead all closely parallel descriptions given by modern day near-death experiencers.  He mentions going through a tunnel, being greeted by telepathic loving angels, seeing landscapes more beautiful than earth, and being subjected to an extensive life review.  All in all, Swedenborg wrote nearly 20 volumes about his out of body experiences.  On his deathbed Swedenborg was asked if there was anything he wanted to recant, to which he replied, “Everything that I have written is as true as you now behold me.  I might have said much more had it been permitted to me.  After death you will see all, and then we shall have much to say to each other on the subject.”

How is it, we might well ask ourselves, that the wisdom of Tibetan sages, the theology and visions of Paul, the strange insights and myths of Plato, and the spiritual revelations of Swedenborg all agree so well, both among themselves and with the narratives of contemporary individuals who have come as close as anyone alive to the state of death?” –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life” (50)

Shamans the world over throughout history have spoken of visiting the “spirit world” or “after-life realm” regularly, conversing with sentient entities and deceased souls, then bringing visions and messages back to the living tribesmen.  They believe that in the other realm one possesses a subtle body, it is populated by many spiritual teachers, and it is a world created by the thoughts and imaginations of many people.  Amazonian shamans use the psychedelic brew Ayahuasca to transport them into this realm.  The Persian Sufis enter a deep trancelike meditation in order to visit this “land where spirits dwell.”  And the Australian aboriginals regularly enter this realm during group meditations called “dream-time.”

The picture of reality reported by NDEers is remarkably self-consistent and is corroborated by the testimony of many of the world’s most talented mystics as well.  Even more astonishing is that as breathtaking and foreign as these subtler levels of reality are to those of us who reside in the world’s more ‘advanced’ cultures, they are mundane and familiar territories to so-called primitive peoples.  For example, Dr. E. Nandisvara Nayake Thero, an anthropologist who has lived with and studied a community of aborigines in Australia, points out that the aboriginal concept of the ‘dreamtime,’ a realm that Australian shamans visit by entering a profound trance, is almost identical to the afterlife planes of existence described in Western sources.  It is the realm where human spirits go after death, and once there a shaman can converse with the dead and instantly access all knowledge.  It is also a dimension in which time, space, and the other boundaries of earthly life cease to exist and one must learn to deal with infinity.  Because of this, Australian shamans often refer to the afterlife as ‘survival in infinity.’”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (265-6)

Virtually all of the world’s shamanic traditions describe a spirit world or alternate dimension reached during states of altered consciousness which they maintain is where souls travel after physical death.  Shamans are experts at navigating these inner realms and they regularly use deep meditation, ecstatic dance, ingestion of entheogens and other methods of shifting consciousness in order to enter them.  In many tribes the pre-requisite to becoming a shaman is having a near-death experience!  The Seneca, the Sioux, the Yakut, the Zulu, the Kikuyu, the Guajiro, the Mu Dang, the Eskimos and many other tribal societies all have traditions of shamans assuming the role after a life-threatening illness brings them face-to-face with the afterlife spirit world.

Most non-Western cultures have religious and philosophical systems, cosmologies, ritual practices, and certain elements of social organization that make it easier for their members to accept and experience death. These cultures generally do not see death as the absolute termination of existence; they believe that consciousness or life in some form continues beyond the point of physiological demise. Whatever specific concepts of afterlife prevail in different cultures, death is typically regarded as a transition or transfiguration, and not as the final annihilation of the individual. Mythological systems have not only detailed descriptions of various afterlife realms, but frequently also complex cartographies to guide souls on their difficult posthumous journeys.”  -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (2)

University of Toronto Psychology professor Joel Whitton has successfully used hypnosis to regress dozens of patients to the time before their birth and published his findings in the book “Life Between Life.”  In this between life state his patients universally reported all the classic features of NDEs including passage through a tunnel, entering a light-filled realm outside of space and time, encountering deceased relatives or spirit guides, and being subjected to an extensive life review.

The message from deep trance is that life after death is synonymous with life before birth and that most of us have taken up residence in this other world many, many times as disembodied entities.  Subconsciously, we are just as familiar with discarnate existence as we are with the Earth plane – the next world is both the state we have left behind in order to be born and the state to which we return at death.  As the wheel of life revolves, birth and death happen repeatedly in the evolution of the individual. Death is no more than the threshold of consciousness that separates one incarnation from the next.  Truly there is life between lives. Subjects, whose religious backgrounds are as varied as their initial prejudices for or against reincarnation, have testified consistently that rebirth is fundamental to the evolutionary process in which we are enveloped.  At death, they say, the soul leaves the body to enter a timeless, spaceless state.  There, our most recent life on Earth is evaluated and the next incarnation is planned according to our karmic requirements.”  -Dr. Joel Whitton, “Life Between Life”

 

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The Near-Death Experience

Another fascinating phenomenon closely related to the OBE is the NDE or Near-Death Experience.  The NDE is essentially the ultimate OBE occurring at the moment of physical death.  Throughout history people who have died and later been resuscitated report the same story of consciousness leaving their physical body, entering a realm of love and light, meeting angelic beings, and watching their entire lives flash before their eyes.  Slight differences exist in various accounts of NDEs, but these pale next to the incredible universal similarities.  The typical NDE is as follows:

A man is dying and suddenly finds himself floating above his body and watching what is going on.  Within moments he travels at great speed through a darkness or a tunnel.  He enters a realm of dazzling light and is warmly met by recently deceased friends and relatives.  Frequently he hears indescribably beautiful music and sees sights – rolling meadows, flower-filled valleys, and sparkling streams – more lovely than anything he has seen on earth.  In this light-filled world he feels no pain or fear and is pervaded with an overwhelming feeling of joy, love, and peace.  He meets a ‘being (and/or beings) of light’ who emanates a feeling of enormous compassion, and is prompted by the being(s) to experience a ‘life review,’ a panoramic replay of his life.  He becomes so enraptured by his experience of this greater reality that he desires nothing more than to stay. However, the being tells him that it is not his time yet and persuades him to return to his earthly life and reenter his physical body.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (240)

A man is dying and, as he reaches the point of greatest physical distress, he hears himself pronounced dead by his doctor. He begins to hear an uncomfortable noise, a loud ringing or buzzing, and at the same time feels himself moving very rapidly through a long dark tunnel. After this, he suddenly finds himself outside of his own physical body, but still in the immediate physical environment, and he sees his own body from a distance, as though he is a spectator. He watches the resuscitation attempt from this unusual vantage point and is in a state of emotional upheaval.  After a while, he collects himself and becomes more accustomed to his odd condition. He notices that he still has a ‘body’ but one of a very different nature and with very different powers from the physical body he has left behind.  Soon other things begin to happen. Others come to meet and to help him. He glimpses the spirits of relatives and friends who have already died, and a loving, warm spirit of a kind he has never encountered before – a being of light – appears before him. This being asks him a question, nonverbally, to make him evaluate his life and helps him along by showing him a panoramic, instantaneous playback of the major events of his life. At some point he finds himself approaching some sort of barrier or border, apparently representing the limit between earthly life and the next life. Yet, he finds that he must go, back to the earth, that the time for his death has not yet come. At this point he resists, for by now he is taken up with his experiences in the afterlife and does not      want to return. He is overwhelmed by intense feelings of joy, love, and peace. Despite his attitude, though, he somehow reunites with his physical body and lives.”  –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life” (34)

Considering the fact that “hallucination” is the usual skeptical argument against NDEs, it is important to note that the main features are amazingly consistent.  The “hallucination” always begins by finding oneself in a non-physical body somewhere near your now lifeless physical body.  At this point your consciousness becomes more expansive than ever, all sensation and perception becomes incredibly lucid, you can hear the thoughts and feel the feelings of everyone around, and you can travel at the speed of thought.  Eventually the physical world begins to fade as you proceed to float through a luminous tunnel, walk up a long staircase, cross a narrow bridge or other such transitional, archetypal scene.  In Greek mythology all newly deceased souls crossed the river Styx on a ferry boat from the world of the living to Hades, the world of the dead.  After transitioning from the world of the living, you begin to see or feel the presence of deceased friends/relatives, angels, so-called “light-beings” who communicate telepathically and send overwhelming emanations of love.  You are then shown a full spectrum playback of your entire life accurate to the finest detail which you re-experience from this space of expanded consciousness able to think, feel, and fully understand not only yourself but everyone you have ever interacted with in life.  You feel the betrayal of a cheated spouse, understand your enemies, realize your true friends, and so on; you feel and experience the consequences of your actions on everyone else.  Ultimately you are told or decide to come back to the world of the living and find yourself stuck in your physical body right at the moment of your resuscitation.  This seems like quite a coherent, meaningful, and oft-repeated sequence of events to be so casually labeled “hallucination.”

It was nothing like an hallucination. I have had hallucinations once, when I was given codeine in the hospital. But that had happened long before the accident which really killed me. And this experience was nothing like the hallucinations, nothing like them at all … I tried to tell my minister, but he told me I had been hallucinating, so I shut up … I tried to tell my nurses what had happened when I woke up, but they told me not to talk about it, that I was just imagining things. So, in the words of one person: you learn very quickly that people don’t take to this as easily as you would like for them to. You simply don’t jump up on a little soapbox and go around telling everyone these things.” –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life” (34-6)

Some people later choose to relate their NDE experiences to doctors, relatives and friends, however it is likely the vast majority do not, often believing for example they will not be believed or worse are considered to have been hallucinating due to the anesthetic or other medical factors associated with the medical situation, or suffering from after-effects arising from the physical condition leading to the NDE.  Other people are afraid to relate NDE experiences on the basis they might be considered to be mentally deranged or will be ridiculed.  To most people experiencing an NDE, relating the experience to others seems pointless, the experience itself being so intensely profound and personal.  Research has proven however that literally millions of people have experienced an NDE, most of which are described as deeply profound, life changing experiences.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (394)

Regardless of many so-called experts claiming the contrary, no near-death experiencer ever considers their NDE to have been a hallucination.  In fact, universally, NDErs report the experience to be “more real than this reality” and “like returning home.”  Not to mention, during the NDE, these patients are indeed clinically dead and showing zero brain activity which fundamentally sets NDEs apart from traditional “hallucinations.”  Furthermore, there are hundreds of documented cases in which NDErs come back to life and report in detail actual events that occurred while they were “dead” and out of body!  This obviously conflicts with the notion that NDEs are mere hallucinations.

Although the orthodox view of NDEs is that they are just hallucinations, there is substantial evidence that this is not the case.  As with OBEs, when NDEers are out-of-body, they are able to report details they have no normal sensory means of knowing.  For example, Moody reports a case in which a woman left her body during surgery, floated into the waiting room, and saw that her daughter was wearing mismatched plaids.  As it turned out, the maid had dressed the little girl so hastily she had not noticed the error and was astounded when the mother, who did not physically see the little girl that day, commented on the fact.  In another case, after leaving her body, a female NDEer went to the hospital lobby and over heard her brother-in-law tell a friend that it looked like he was going to have to cancel a business trip and instead be one of his sister-in-law’s pall bearers.  After the woman recovered, she reprimanded her astonished brother-in-law for writing her off so quickly.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (241)

Several doctors have told me, for example, that they are utterly baffled about how patients with no medical knowledge could describe in such detail and so correctly the procedure used in resuscitation attempts, even though these events took place while the doctors knew the patients involved to be ‘dead.’ In several cases, persons have related to me how they amazed their doctors or others with reports of events they had witnessed while out of the body. While she was dying, for example, one girl went out of her body and into another room in the hospital where she found her older sister crying and saying, ‘Oh, Kathy, please don’t die, please don’t die.’ The older sister was quite baffled when, later, Kathy told her exactly where she had been and what she had been saying, during this time.” –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life” (40)

To date there are hundreds of independently verified and documented cases in which NDErs have come back to life accurately reporting events that happened in other rooms / buildings / places while they were “dead.”  Even more astonishing, there are several cases in which blind NDErs have gained sight while out of body and given detailed visually accurate accounts of their surroundings!  NDE researcher Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross interviewed many such clinically blind patients who were able to see perfectly while “dead” and out of body.  She wrote that, “to our amazement, they were able to describe the color and design of clothing and jewelry the people present wore.

Raymond Moody, Kenneth Ring, Michael Sabom, Elisabeth Kubler- Ross, and other highly respected researchers, have repeatedly confirmed that people in near-death situations have had out-of-body-experiences (OOBEs), during which they were able to witness events happening in other rooms or even distant places. These accounts have been objectively verified by independent observers. The ultimate challenge to Newtonian science in this area of research has been the discovery that clinically blind people experiencing OOBEs describe scenes that are visually accurate, though after recovering from the disease or trauma that caused the near-death experience they are not able to see.”  -Stanislav Grof, “The Holotropic Mind” (133-134)

If NDErs are clinically dead and all brain activity has ceased, yet they still retain regular memory and cognitive function, then the orthodox explanation of consciousness arising from the brain must be incorrect.  If OBErs and NDErs are comatose with their eyes closed (or blind), yet they still experience regular vision while out-of-body, then the orthodox explanation of sight arising from eyes must also be incorrect.  Moreover, not only do NDErs retain their sight, memory, and cognitive functioning, but they universally report them to be expanded and deepened.  This strongly suggests that consciousness, the ability to see, remember, and have an inner witness to the external world is intangibly inherent in nature and not created by or confined to biological structures.  It suggests that our brains, eyes, and nervous systems act not as creators of consciousness, but rather as receiver / transmitters of consciousness.  It suggests that consciousness is an objective, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent underlying field of awareness received and transmitted by various subjective biological organisms in various degrees on various frequencies.  It suggests that we all channel Objective Universal Mind (God) into subjective packets of awareness to experience and participate in creation.

People who have ‘near death’ or ‘out-of-body’ experiences describe how they could still see while they were looking down at their bodies lying on the operating table or wherever. If we see with our eyes, or indeed even our brain, how come we can see without them?” –David Icke, “Infinite Love is the Only Truth, Everything Else is Illusion” (107)

Dr. Raymond Moody is the psychologist/medical doctor who actually coined the term “near-death experience” in his 1975 book Life After Life.  After conducting interviews and an in-depth study of 150 patients who had clinically died and come back, Dr. Moody became a firm believer in life after death.  Since then he has written nearly a dozen more intriguing books on the subject.  His research identifies nine experiences common to almost all NDEs:

-Hearing sounds such as buzzing

-Feeling absolute peace and painlessness

-Having an out-of-body experience

-Traveling through a tunnel

-Rising into the heavens

-Seeing angels or dead relatives

-Meeting a spiritual being such as God

-Seeing a review of one’s life

-Feeling reluctant to return to life

Dr. Moody’s research also focuses on the after-effects NDEs have on people mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  His patients came back from their near-deaths with many epiphanies, new paradigms and lifestyle changes, all of them positive.  For instance most NDErs came back with a more jovial, relaxed demeanor, a more sincere, loving, forgiving, appreciative attitude, and became less worldly and more intuitive, less materialistic and more spiritual.

One of the most important aspects of Moody’s study is his discussion of the effects the death experiences had on the lives of these individuals. They felt that their lives had broadened and deepened. They developed serious interest in ultimate philosophical and spiritual issues, and started pursuing quite different values in life than before. Existence suddenly appeared much more precious, and much more emphasis was put on a full experience of the present moment, on the here and now. There were deep changes in the concept of the relative importance of the physical body and the mind; rarely, this was associated with the development of psychic abilities.”  -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (156)

One last piece of evidence of the reality of the NDE is the transformative effect it has on those who experience it.  Researchers have discovered that NDEers are almost always profoundly changed by their journey to the beyond.  They become happier, more optimistic, more easygoing, and less concerned with material possessions.  Most striking of all, their capacity to love expands enormously.  Aloof husbands suddenly become warm and affectionate, workaholics start relaxing and devoting time to their families, and introverts become extroverts.  These changes are often so dramatic that people who know the NDEer frequently remark that he or she has become an entirely different person.  There are even cases on record of criminals completely reforming their ways, and fire-and-brimstone preachers replacing their message of damnation with one of unconditional love and compassion.  NDEers also become much more spiritually oriented.  They return not only firmly convinced of the immortality of the human soul, but also with a deep and abiding sense that the universe is compassionate and intelligent, and this loving presence is always with them.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (268-9)

Perhaps the most amazing and fascinating aspect of NDEs is that no one ever wants to come back to life, and once they do, they lose all fear of death!  The beauty, the wonder, the feelings of absolute bliss and contentment experienced on “the other side” are so compelling that everyone wishes nothing more than to stay.  Inevitably though, once they do come back, they are never again afraid to die.  NDErs are not afraid to die because they have personally experienced the continuation of consciousness beyond physical death and this gnosis alleviates any fear.  Dr. Moody commented on this phenomenon, saying that, “As one might reasonably expect, this experience has a profound effect upon one’s attitude towards physical death, especially for those who had not previously expected that anything took place after death. In some form or another, almost every person has expressed to me the thought that he is no longer afraid of death.”  Here are just a few testimonies from Dr. Moody’s patients:

1) “I am thoroughly convinced that there is life after death, without a shadow of a doubt, and I am not afraid to die. I am not. Some people I have known are so afraid, so scared. I always smile to myself when I hear people doubt that there is an afterlife, or say, ‘When you’re dead, you’re gone.’ I think to myself, ‘They really don’t know.’ I’ve had many things happen to me in my life. In business, I’ve had a gun pulled on me and put to my temple. And it didn’t frighten me very much, because I thought, ‘Well, if I really die, if they really kill me, I know I’ll still live somewhere.’

2) “When I was a little boy I used to dread dying. I used to wake up at night crying and having a fit. My mother and father would rush into the bedroom and ask what was wrong. I told them that I didn’t want to die, but that I knew l had to, and asked if they could stop it. My mother would talk to me and tell me, ‘No, that’s just the way it is and we all have to face it.’ She said that we all had to do it alone and that when the time came we would do it all right. And years later after my mother died I would talk about death with my wife. I still feared it. I didn’t want it to come. But since this experience, I don’t fear death. Those feelings vanished. I don’t feel bad at funerals anymore. I kind of rejoice at them, because I know what the dead person has been through.”

3) “Now, I am not afraid to die. It’s not that I have a death wish or want to die right now. I don’t want to be living over there on the other side now, because I’m supposed to be living here. The reason why I’m not afraid to die, though, is that I know where I’m going when I leave here, because I’ve been there before.” –Dr. Raymond Moody, “Life After Life”

Dr. Moody comments that, “The reason why death is no longer frightening, as all of these excerpts express, is that after his experience a person no longer entertains any doubts about his survival of bodily death. It is no longer merely an abstract possibility to him, but a fact of his experience.”  Many of Dr. Moody’s patients have actually ceased using the word “death” altogether, insisting that if by “death” one means “the annihilation of consciousness,” then death is a misnomer – it does not exist.   Moody seems to agree with this assertion as evidenced by the title of his first NDE book, “Life After Life.”  One of his patients stated, “Some say that we are not using the word ‘death’ because we are trying to escape from it. That’s not true in my case. After you’ve once had the experience that I had, you know in your heart that there’s no such thing as death. You just graduate from one thing to another – like from grammar school to high school to college.”

NDE, OBE and astral projection are all experiences reproducing what will happen to each and every person at the point of physical death, resulting in a profound knowing of the truth of the higher realities and the continuation of life after the death of the physical body.  Anyone enjoying these experiences will profoundly know beyond any doubts the state known as ‘death’ is not final but is rather the continuation of a much greater adventure, the next stage in life as an immortal spiritual being of the multi-dimensional universe.” -Adrian Cooper, “Our Ultimate Reality” (397)

In 1981 Gallup performed a telling poll which found that eight million adult Americans (over 5% of the population) had experienced an NDE!  This massive figure means that if NDEs are mere hallucinations as the orthodox establishment would have us believe, then they are absolutely epidemic mass hallucinations affecting millions and millions.  Is this even plausible?

In 1982 Dr. Michael Sabom, the cardiologist-OBE-skeptic-turned-believer from last chapter, collated 5 years of interviews with patients brought back to life after clinical death.  Out of these 78 patients, 40% of them without being prompted reported experiencing a typical NDE.

What Sabom discovered, much to his surprise, was the level of commonality expressed by those who reported NDEs – one that has remained consistent throughout all such subsequent research.  Often the experience involves the person traveling through a tunnel to an all-encompassing light that innately feels loving and blissful, to be met by departed loved ones or archetypal or iconic figures.  There’s an expansion of awareness regularly accompanied by a nonjudgmental but frank life review.  And sometimes – appearing to be by personal choice and other times by a gentle but firm mandate – the person is made to return to his or her life often with the profound sense of having to complete a mission.”  -Ervin Laszlo and Jude Currivan, “Cosmos” (146)

Dr. Sabom found there was no difference in religious convictions between NDErs and non-NDErs, nor was there any difference in being previously aware of the existence of such experiences.  In fact, more patients who had NDEs were previously unaware of the existence of NDEs, than those who were already aware of them. Dr. Sabom’s research concluded that NDEs happen regardless of expectation, religion, culture or creed.

NDEers also have no unique demographic characteristics.  Various studies have shown that there is no relationship between NDEs and a person’s age, sex, marital status, race, religion, and/or spiritual beliefs, social class, educational level, income, frequency of church attendance, size of home community, or area of residence.  NDEs, like lightning, can strike anyone at any time.  The devoutly religious are no more likely to have an NDE than nonbelievers.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (240)

In 1990 pediatrician Dr. Melvin Morse first became interested in the NDE phenomenon after interviewing 12 young children recently resuscitated from cardiac arrest and 8 of them reporting NDEs.  Over the next 10 years Dr. Morse interviewed every cardiac arrest survivor at his hospital.  Time and time again, he heard the same story recounted.  The patients found themselves outside their physical bodies, watched the doctors scramble to resuscitate them, were drawn into a mystical tunnel, and greeted by angelic light beings.

Dr. Melvin Morse, a pediatrician in Seattle, Washington, first became interested in NDEs after treating a seven year-old drowning victim.  By the time the little girl was resuscitated she was profoundly comatose, had fixed and dilated pupils, no muscle reflexes, and no corneal response … Despite these odds, she made a full recovery and when Morse looked in on her for the first time after she regained consciousness she recognized him and said that she had watched him working on her comatose body.  When Morse questioned her further she explained that she had left her body and passed through a tunnel into heaven where she had met ‘the Heavenly Father.’  The Heavenly Father told her she was not really meant to be there yet and asked if she wanted to stay or go back.  At first she said she wanted to stay, but when the Heavenly Father pointed out that that decision meant she would not be seeing her mother again, she changed her mind and returned to her body.  Morse was skeptical but fascinated and from that point on set out to learn everything he could about NDEs.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (242-243)

Dr. Pim Van Lommel is another leading cardiologist who became convinced there is life after death due to hearing the NDE accounts of so many patients.  In 2001 he interviewed 344 heart patients at his Netherlands hospital who had been clinically dead for at least 5 minutes.  62 of them (or 18%) reported having lucid OBEs or NDEs, and could recall in detail specifics of what happened during their time spent “dead” out of body.  Since 2001, Van Lommel has resigned his post as practicing cardiologist to pursue his research into NDEs.

Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel produced a massive study of near-death experiences that supported the whole concept of life after death, as well as raising questions about DNA, the collective unconscious and the idea of ‘karma’. His findings were published in the British medical journal, The Lancet. Van Lommel’s interest was sparked 35 years ago when a patient told him about her near-death experience, but his serious study only began after he later read a book called Return from Tomorrow in which the American doctor, George Ritchie, detailed his own experience of ‘near-death’. Van Lommel began to ask all his patients if they remembered anything during their cardiac arrests”  –David Icke, “The David Icke Guide to the Global Conspiracy” (23)

In one popular case, a female NDEer found herself moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel and saw a friend of hers coming back the other way!  As they passed each other, the friend telepathically communicated that he had died but was being sent back.  Confused, the woman continued down the tunnel only to eventually be sent back herself.  Upon resuscitation, she discovered that her friend had suffered cardiac arrest at approximately the same time and vividly remembered seeing and communicating with her as well! Here are a few quotes from some of Van Lommel’s other patients about their NDEs:

1) “I became ‘detached’ from the body and hovered within and around it. It was possible to see the surrounding bedroom and my body even though my eyes were closed. I was suddenly able to ‘think’ hundreds or thousands of times faster, and with greater clarity, than is humanly normal or possible. At this point I realized and accepted that I had died. It was time to move on. It was a feeling of total peace – completely without fear or pain, and didn’t involve any emotions at all.

2) “I was looking down at my own body from up above and saw doctors and nurses fighting for my life. I could hear what they were saying. Then I got a warm feeling and I was in a tunnel. At the end of that tunnel was a bright, warm, white, vibrating light. It was beautiful. It gave me a feeling of peace and confidence. I floated towards it. The warm feeling became stronger and stronger. I felt at home, loved, nearly ecstatic. I saw my life flash before me. Suddenly I felt the pain of the accident once again and shot back into my body. I was furious that the doctors had brought me back. This experience is a blessing for me, for now I know for sure that body and soul are separated, and that there is life after death. It has convinced me that consciousness lives on beyond the grave. Death is not death, but another form of life.”

3) “[During my NDE] I saw a man who looked at me lovingly, but whom I did not know. [Later] At my mother’s deathbed, she confessed to me that I had been born out of an extramarital relationship, my father being a Jewish man who had been deported and killed during the Second World War, and my mother showed me his picture. The unknown man that I had seen years before during my near-death experience turned out to be my biological father.”

Dr. Van Lommel notes in his research that at the moment of their “deaths” not only are NDErs conscious, but their consciousness becomes more expansive than ever.  They are able to think hundreds of times clearer/quicker than normal and remember every detail of their lives since childhood, yet all the while they are clinically dead and showing zero brain activity!  This raises the obvious philosophical question, if consciousness is merely a by-product of brain activity, as the scientific-materialist establishment would have us believe, then how is it possible for millions of people to experience these phenomena?  Whether they are authentic visits to the afterlife or merely hallucinations, either way, NDEs defy the orthodox theory that consciousness arises from brain activity.  Just like Dr. Moody, Dr. Van Lommel found that his patients lost all fear of death after coming back from their NDEs, and the reason for this, Dr. Van Lommel says, “is because they have experienced that their consciousness lives on, that there is continuity. Their life and their identity don’t end when the body dies. They simply have the feeling they’re taking off their coat.

The NDE may climax with a merging into an indescribably loving and powerful white light that emanates from the divine, holy, and sacred. This leads to a mystical or spiritual experience in which time and space lose all meaning. Those who undergo an NDE feel embraced by something much greater than themselves, or anything they previously could have imagined: the ‘source of all existence.’ There’s a certainty that consciousness exists after death. Those who reach the mystical level of the NDE emerge with a greater appreciation for life, less fear of death, and a reorientation of their priorities to less material and more spiritual pursuits.  The sense of reality of what near-death experiencers see and feel is undeniably certain, and it’s common to hear expressions like ‘it was more real than real.’ It is difficult for those ‘coming back’ from an NDE to describe it; they often say it is ‘beyond language.’”  -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (220-1)

My good friend Chris Wilshaw from the TaoWow blog experienced an NDE while traveling abroad in India many years ago.  Near the end of his visit, he became very ill, weak, and unable to keep down food for over a fortnight, after which he died.  Chris wrote of that fateful evening:

At some point that night I knew for sure I was dying. I knew when I was close to death. I knew the point I had accepted death. I knew, for certain, as with all of these stages, each one, what they were and what they meant. And I knew when I was dead. The bliss and completeness were un-put-into-wordable and I have accepted that now years on. The experience is with me now but language does not exist to paint it.

During his NDE (which he emphasizes was a Death Experience, not a Near-Death Experience) Chris went through most of Dr. Moody’s 9 stages.  He did not hear any buzzing or beautiful music, but did feel absolute peace and completeness, lifted out of his physical body, traveled through a tunnel upward to the heavens, and met some notable astral beings: He encountered a man painting statues of ancient deities who claimed to be the inventor of Hinduism; he sat in silent meditation with the Buddha; he interacted with a female Gaia entity; and finally “reached a point of no beings, no separations, and pure completeness – no room for God, no duality.”  Amazingly when Chris came back into his body the next morning, he was completely healthy, had a full appetite, and felt all his energy replenished.  Now looking back at his NDE, he recounts a few basic truths that were shown to him:

The basics of the truths that were clearly made to me that night are that: All is this, one, perfect. Life and death are nothing but ideas. The idea of separate self is an idea. We are like nodes of a complete net and each node is the whole net, but for this experience only sees as far as the next few nodes – beyond that is mystery, yet beyond that is infinity and if anything is infinite, it is also you. You’re infinite, you are me as I am you as we are one. The one. Life and death are not separate but one action. The ‘universe,’ the ‘infinite,’ whatever you call it, is living, it has beings. These beings come and go, but their coming and going are not life or death. An infinite number of beings have been born and will be born. An infinite number of beings have died and will die. Yet in all of this living and dying, the infinite had no beginning and will have no end. And that infinite, is you.”

As for overcoming the fear of death, I asked Chris, “are you less afraid or unafraid of death now?” to which he replied, “What people fear is the thought of those left behind and the dissolution and end of their ego. Death is easy for the one who dies and hard on the ones left behind. It would be a great gift to let every person on earth know that when someone dies, this is not sad and not an end – that way both of these fears could be removed: No concern for those left behind and no last wrestling with the ego. The NDE is a very powerful experience that does clear up these human concerns. It would indeed be a gift if it could be given. Death is not an end and is no bad thing. If I died now I would die peacefully and in bliss.”

 

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The Out-of-Body Experience

An out-of-body experience is a condition usually occurring spontaneously during meditation, deep sleep, hypnosis, shamanic trance, sensory-deprivation, anesthesia, extreme illness or trauma, in which one finds themselves outside their physical body, yet remaining fully conscious and perceiving everything normally.  Robert Monroe describes it as “an altered state of consciousness in which the subject feels that his mind or self-awareness is separated from his physical body and this self-awareness has a vivid and real sense about it, quite different from a dream.”

The experience typically begins by finding yourself floating over or standing next to your physical body, perceiving normally, but with a great feeling of lightness and power.  You may see your physical body lying on the bed or you may just rise straight up through the ceiling.  You may have a ghostly, astral body which can fly around or you may be a point of pure consciousness which can travel instantaneously to wherever you think about.

Some individuals describe themselves as amorphous clouds, energy patterns, or pure consciousness; others experience distinct feelings of having a body which is, however, permeable, invisible, and inaudible for those in the phenomenal world. Sometimes there is fear, confusion, and a tendency to return to the physical body; sometimes there are ecstatic feelings of timelessness, weightlessness, peace, serenity, and tranquility. Some individuals in this state show concern about the fate of their physical bodies; others feel totally indifferent.”  -Stanislav Grof & Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (154)

You can move through space (and time) slowly or apparently somewhere beyond the speed of light. You can observe, participate in events, make willful decisions based upon what you perceive and do. You can move through physical matter such as walls, steel plates, concrete, earth, oceans, air, even atomic radiation without effort or effect. You can go into an adjoining room without bothering to open the door. You can visit a friend three thousand miles away. You can explore the moon, the solar system, and the galaxy if these interest you. Or you can enter other reality systems only dimly perceived and theorized by our time/space consciousness.”  –Robert Monroe, “Far Journeys” (3-4)

Most OBEs have common features.  They all typically begin while in an altered state of consciousness your awareness shifts to a point outside your physical body.  The physical body is usually seen dormant on the bed (or wherever you left it) while a second, astral body is seen attached to your new space of awareness.  This light, ghostly body can pass through walls or solid objects, float/fly around, and is sometimes even seen by other people.

In the OOBE, the individual is near-totally conscious … Most if not all of your physical sensory perception is replicated. You can ‘see,’ ‘hear,’ and ‘touch’ – the weakest seem to be smell and taste. Your perspective is from a position outside your physical body, near or distant. In a near state, it is usually from a location impossible for you to ‘be’ with your physical body, such as floating against the ceiling. In a far location, it could be in Paris when you know you are in New York physically. You can observe events taking place, but you cannot change or significantly affect them. You can verify the authenticity of such events subsequently if you so desire.” –Robert Monroe, “Far Journeys” (265)

OBE’s have been reported throughout history by people of all ages and cultures.  The soul-body or astral-body was known as the “ka” to ancient Egyptians, the “siddhi” to Indians, and the “bardo-body” to Tibetans.  OBEs are the main subject matter, described in detail in the Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead.  St. Paul seems to describe an OBE in second Corinthians chapter twelve.  Ernst Hemmingway wrote about witnessing his soul leave his physical body and float around after being hit by shrapnel in 1918.

Aldous Huxley, Goethe, D. H. Lawrence, August Strindberg, and Jack London all reported having OBEs.  They were known to the Egyptians, the North American Indians, the Chinese, the Greek philosophers, the medieval alchemists, the Oceanic peoples, the Hindus, the Hebrews, and the Moslems.  In a cross-cultural study of 44 non-Western societies, Dean Shiels found that only three did not hold a belief in OBEs.  Erika Bourguignon looked at 488 world societies – or roughly 57 percent of all known societies – and found that 437 of them, or 89 percent, had at least some tradition regarding OBEs … Dr. Robert Crookall, a geologist at the University of Aberdeen and an amateur parapsychologist, investigated enough cases to fill nine books on the subject.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (230)

It is quite well known, for example, that many cultures attribute to shamans the capacity to fly out of the body. In fact, a shaman cannot be anointed as such unless he has that capacity. According to Eliade, such flights express ‘intelligent understanding of secret things, metaphysical truths, symbolic meaning, transcendence, and freedom.’” –Robert Monroe, “Far Journeys” (278)

Many surveys have also been conducted in recent years testing the prevalence of the OBE phenomenon.  In 1954 Dr. Hornell Hart of Duke University surveyed 115 of his students and found that 27 of them had experienced an OBE at least once.  A 1966 study by Celia Green showed that 19% of students asked at Southampton University had had one.  A 1968 Green15 survey reported that 34% of 380 Oxford undergraduates had experienced an OBE.  Palmer and Dennis’ 1975 study randomly selected a group of 1,000 students and townspeople in a small Virginia town resulting in 25% of the students, and 14% of the townspeople answering affirmatively.  Erlendur Haraldsson’s random survey of 902 adults found 8% had been out of their bodies at least once.  And a 1980 survey by Dr. Harvey Irwin at the University of New England in Australia found 20% of his 177 had experienced out-of-body travel.  All results pooled together, it seems an average of about 1 in 7 people experiences an OBE at least once during their lives.

First, OOBEs are a universal human experience, not in the sense that  they happen to large numbers of people, but in that they have happened all through recorded history, and there are marked similarities in the experience among people who are otherwise extremely different in terms of cultural background. One can find reports of OOBEs by housewives in Kansas which closely resemble accounts of OOBEs from ancient Egyptian or oriental sources.  Second, the OOBE is generally a once-in-a-lifetime experience, seemingly experienced by ‘accident.’ Illnesses sometimes bring it about, especially illnesses which are almost fatal. Great emotional stress sometimes brings it about. In many cases, it simply happens during sleep without our having any idea of what might have caused it. In very rare instances it seems to have been brought about by a deliberate attempt. Third, the experience of an OOBE is usually one of the most profound experiences of a person’s life, and radically alters his beliefs. This is usually expressed as, ‘I no longer [merely] believe in survival of death or an immortal soul, I know that I will survive death.’ The person feels that he has directly experienced being alive and conscious without his physical body, and therefore knows that he possesses some kind of soul that will survive bodily death.”  –Robert Monroe, “Journeys Out of the Body” (7)

In Robert Monroe’s book “Far Journeys” he shares many recorded accounts of OBEs including the following: “When I was approximately ten years old I was living together with my older brother at my uncle’s house, a major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. One day I was reclined on my bed quite awake and was looking at the ceiling beams of the old Spanish building where the living quarters were located. I was saying to myself many questions such as what was I doing there and who was I. All of a sudden I get up from the bed and start walking toward the next room. At that moment I felt a strange sensation in me; it was a sensation of weightlessness and a strange mix of a sense of a feeling of joy. I turned back in my steps in order to go back to bed when to my big surprise I saw myself reclined on the bed. This surprising experience at that very small age gave me the kind of a jerk which, so to say, shook me back to my body.”  (276-7)

When talking about these subjects at work I found that one of my colleagues, while under anesthesia for an operation, found himself out-of-body hovering against the ceiling in the corner of the Operating Room where he watched his body and the surgeons perform the entire procedure.  It turns out this is actually a fairly common occurrence.  Dr. Michael Rawlings recorded the account of one patient who remembered what the doctor was wearing and what he did during an emergency procedure, which was seemingly impossible because the patient was in a coma at the time.

Out-of-body experience also eventually became a relatively common subject, as more and more surgical patients reported that they witnessed their entire operations and heard everything that was said in the operating room.”  -David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., “Power Vs. Force” (258)

Experiencing an OBE during cardiac arrest is relatively common, so common that Michael B. Sabom, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Emory University and a staff physician at the Atlanta Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, got tired of hearing his patients recount such ‘fantasies’ and decided to settle the matter once and for all.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (232)

Dr. Sabom interviewed 32 chronic cardiac patients who reported having an OBE during their heart attack and the results forever changed his mind about this phenomenon.  He asked them to describe exactly what they remembered happening during the procedure while they were out-of-body:

26 gave correct but general descriptions, 6 gave highly detailed and accurate descriptions of their own resuscitation, and 1 gave a blow-by-blow accounting so accurate that Sabom was stunned.  The results inspired him to delve even deeper into the phenomenon … he has now become an ardent believer and lectures widely on the subject.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (232)

In conclusion to his research, Dr. Sabom stated: “[There appears] to be no plausible explanation for the accuracy of these observations involving the usual physical senses.  The out-of-body hypothesis simply seems to fit best with the data at hand.”

There are many people who have reported OBEs in which they saw things that really did happen. The most common of these are the descriptions by patients undergoing surgery, who claim to have witnessed the whole procedure from outside their body. Some have reported details of the procedure that they could not have possibly known, such as where the doctors put gall stones that were removed. Some patients have accurately repeated conversations that went on during the surgery. Skeptics may dismiss such cases by theorizing that some subconscious part of the patient still had cognitive abilities during the operation, and assuming that somehow the patient accessed this subconscious memory when they awoke. This theory cannot explain the less common cases where OBE subjects have reported what was happening in a different room. These seem to suggest that the subject could actually see some part of physical reality.” –Robert Peterson, “Out of Body Experiences” (86)

My fiancé Petchara has also experienced OBEs many times periodically throughout her life.  Always during sleep, having drifted off into the subconscious realms, there comes a self-reflexive moment where she finds herself floating in her room with a light-body while fully aware that her physical body is asleep on the bed.  From there she usually leaves through the closed window by her bed and floats over the roofs/houses/roads in her village.  On many occasions she has astrally projected to the houses of classmates, houses she had never visited before, and remembered specific details which were later confirmed true by her shocked classmates.  During one OBE she found herself at her friend Tan’s house and saw orange stairs, a street sign, a van parking lot on one side and a small wooded area on the other, all subsequently confirmed true by Tan.  Another time she found herself apparently outside her friend Oil’s new condo, face to face with a “do not enter” sign on the door and a large swimming pool on the left, both later confirmed to be true.  Not long after meeting me, she astrally traveled to my old house in America where my parents still live and accurately reported the outline, white color, gray tin roof, garage, shelving and flower beds.

I had a spontaneous OBE as a teenager, and after recovering from the shock of finding myself floating over my body and staring down at myself asleep in bed, I had an indescribably exhilarating time flying through walls and soaring over the treetops.  During the course of my bodiless journey I even stumbled across a library book a neighbor had lost and was able to tell her where the book was located the next day.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (231)

In Dr. Stanislav Grof’s book “The Holotropic Mind” he shares the account of one Cuban woman who, during cardiac arrest in a Miami hospital, found herself out-of-body back at her old home in Cuba.  She recovered from the heart attack, but came back to her body very agitated about what she had seen while astrally in Cuba.  The people now living in her old home had moved everything around, changed furniture, and painted the fence a shade of green which she hated; all of which were subsequently verified and documented by her curious attending physician.

In Michael Talbot’s “The Holographic Universe” he shares the story of Kimberly Clark, a Seattle hospital social worker who never took OBEs seriously until an incident with a coronary patient named Maria.  One day Maria went into cardiac arrest and found herself hovering against the ceiling watching the doctors and nurses tending to her body.  She watched for a while and then found herself distracted by something over the emergency room driveway.  As soon as she thought about this, she was instantly there hovering outside the hospital:

As soon as she ‘thought herself’ there, she was there.  Next Maria ‘thought her way’ up to the third floor of the building and found herself ‘eyeball to shoelace’ with a tennis shoe.  It was an old shoe and she noticed that the little toe had worn a hole through the fabric.  She also noticed several other details, such as the fact that the lace was stuck under the heel.  After Maria finished her account she begged Clark to please go to the ledge and see if there was a shoe there so that she could confirm whether her experience was real or not.  Skeptical but intrigued … she went up to the third floor and … found a room where she pressed her face against the glass and looked down and saw the tennis shoe.  Still, from her vantage point she could not tell if the little toe had worn a place in the shoe or if any of the other details Maria had described were correct.  It wasn’t until she retrieved the shoe that she confirmed Maria’s various observations.  ‘The only way she would have had such a perspective was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe,’ states Clark, who has since become a believer in OBEs.  ‘It was very concrete evidence for me.’”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (231-232)

In some instances of OOBEs the description of what was happening at a distant place is correct and more accurate than we would expect by coincidence. Not the majority, by any means, but some. To explain these we must postulate either that the ‘hallucinatory’ experience of the OOBE was combined with the operation of ESP, or that in some sense the person really was ‘there.’ The OOBE then becomes very real indeed. The fact that most of our knowledge about OOBEs comes from reports of once-in-a-lifetime experiences puts us at two serious disadvantages. The first of these is that most people cannot produce an OOBE at will, so this precludes the possibility of studying them under precise laboratory conditions. The second disadvantage is that when a person is suddenly thrust for a brief period of time into a very novel environment he may not be a very good observer.” –Robert Monroe, “Journeys Out of the Body” (8)

OBEs are generally sporadic or once-in-a-lifetime phenomena so scientifically verifying their authenticity is an elusive task.  However, with the help of many skilled astral projectors, OBEs have indeed been scientifically documented in the lab.  For instance, in one experiment, parapsychologist Charles Tart wrote a five-digit number on a pad of paper then kept it in a locked room.  In another room an experienced astral traveler laid down, shifted consciousness to her astral body, floated through the wall and accurately reported the number.  In another series of experiments, psychologists Janet Lee Mitchell and Karlis Osis set up a special room for OBE trials at the American Society for Psychical Research in New York.  They placed certain images, objects, and colored geometric patterns in various places around the room, locked it, and then had skilled astral projectors from many places across the country project in and record what they saw.  Many of the participants were able to correctly identify everything in the room.  In another series of experiments, Dr. Robert Morris, director of research at the Psychical Research Foundation in North Carolina, used pets to detect the astral presence of their owners.  For example, during one experiment, a kitten belonging to seasoned astral traveler Keith Harary would always stop meowing and start purring whenever Keith astrally projected into the room.

Some people have mastered the ability well enough to leave their body at will.  One of the most famous of these individuals is a former radio and television executive named Robert Monroe … Monroe began keeping a written journal of his experiences, carefully documenting everything he learned about the out-of-body state.  He discovered he could pass through solid objects and travel great distances in the twinkling of an eye simply by ‘thinking’ himself there.  He found that other people were seldom aware of his presence, although the friends whom he traveled to see while in this ‘second state’ quickly became believers when he accurately described their dress and activity at the time of his out-of-body visit.  He also discovered that he was not alone in his pursuit and occasionally bumped into other disembodied travelers.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (233)

As an example of a real-time projection experience, I think of my nephew Matt’s two-week visit back in 1991. During this time, apart from many other activities, I coached Matt on projection. A few days before he was due to leave, while meditating late at night, I clearly saw Matt’s projected real-time double float through the wall and come into the room I was sitting in. He waved cheerfully at me and I slowly waved back at him, without breaking my entranced state – no mean feat in itself – immensely pleased that Matt had finally managed to get out of his body. Matt floated about the room, seemingly having some difficulty with movement and directional control, but apparently thoroughly enjoying himself. He soon floated out of my sight and that was the last I saw of him that night.  The next morning Matt was very excited about his first conscious-exit projection.  He vividly remembered using my technique and feeling heavy vibrations, then leaving his body, moving through the wall and seeing me, and us waving at each other.”  –Robert Bruce, “Astral Dynamics” (8)

I have also personally experienced a mild OBE.  Once while meditating during a magic mushroom trip my center of awareness shot up to about 5 feet above my head.  I could see and hear normally, but the vantage point was no longer from my physical eyes and ears; it was from a point well above them, making me feel like a sitting giant.  It only lasted for a few moments, but that experience of clearly seeing/hearing from a point far above my physical eyes/ears was enough to shatter my already waning materialist worldview.

Considered as a whole the evidence seems unequivocal.  Although we are taught that we ‘think’ with our brains, this is not always true.  Under the right circumstances our consciousness – the thinking, perceiving part of us – can detach from the physical body and exist just about anywhere it wants to.  Our current scientific understanding cannot account for this phenomenon, but it becomes much more tractable in terms of the holographic idea.  Remember that in a holographic universe, location is itself an illusion.  Just as an image of an apple has no specific location on a piece of holographic film, in a universe that is organized holographically things and objects also possess no definite location; everything is ultimately nonlocal, including consciousness.  Thus, although our consciousness appears to be localized in our heads, under certain conditions it can just as easily appear to be localized in the upper corner of the room, hovering over a grassy lawn, or floating eyeball-to-shoelace with a tennis shoe on the third-floor ledge of a buildingIf the idea of a nonlocal consciousness seems difficult to grasp, a useful analogy can once again be found in dreaming.  Imagine that you are dreaming you are attending a crowded art exhibit.  As you wander among the people and gaze at the artworks, your consciousness appears to be localized in the head of the person you are in the dream.  But where is your consciousness really?  A quick analysis will reveal that it is actually in everything in the dream, in the other people attending the exhibit, in the artworks, even in the very space of the dream.  In a dream, location is also an illusion because everything – people, objects, space, consciousness, and so on – is unfolding out of the deeper and more fundamental reality of the dreamer.”  -Michael Talbot, “The Holographic Universe” (234)

 

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