Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Betty Hill case, re-pondered

I stumbled upon an online post by a UFO debunker, who posted a number of documents in effort to rebut on the Betty Hill story.  I think that the documents are very interesting... They are an exchange of letters between Dr. Benjamin Simon and famous debunker Phil Klass, written around the time of the initial broadcast of "The UFO Incident" in 1975, with Dr. Simon agreeing with Klass--there was no actual abduction on September 19, 1961.

Initially I was surprised: *The* famous Betty and Barney Hill hypnotist, agreeing with Klass?  But as I read through them, I thought, "Not a surprise."  The Betty Hill story was quite radical for the time, and, if it's "true," it still is. It would take a number of logical leaps for a credentialed medical professional to accept it at face value. But did Dr. Simon actually debunk it?  Not quite. While he implies that there is probably a repressed psychological origin for the experience, he does concede that it was an experience of some sort--but certainly not a "real" abduction by "aliens."

The letters are actually an interesting window into Betty Hill's evolution from frightened abductee to New Age evangelist, as she traveled the circuit with her story, collecting money whilst surrounding herself with APRO investigators, astrologers, and other weird people.

None of this should surprise anyone. I remember reading about Betty Hill's erratic behavior at the time in "Fate" magazine. I'm not sure that her behavior rises to the level of illness, but Klass and Dr. Simon certainly leave the impression that Betty was an unreliable informant.  And no one can blame Dr. Simon for not wanting to be part of this sort of circus. Reading between the lines as I am wont to do, a lot of money was made by many on the Betty and Barney Hill story, and Dr. Simon did not share in the windfall.  Sour grapes maybe?  Probably not, but still possible.

But the correspondence left me with a number of questions. What about Betty Hill's implied mental instability, for example? Does it taint her original 1960s testimony?  Was she in fact mentally ill, and if so, does this invalidate her story?  Or was she, as Dr. Simon implies, embellishing her experience for attention and money?  What about the "two experiences with UFOs" that Dr. Simon had?  Dr. Simon was a UFO experiencer--was he "abducted" himself? And what about medical ethics--I know that this was pre-HIPAA, but was Dr. Simon a medical doctor?  If so, was he authorized to discuss Betty's hypnotic treatment?

So I'm left with questions. And I don't know if I want to do the necessary work to find answers. I doubt that it's possible to pin down the truth of *anything* involving UFOs, particularly in the Betty Hill case.  Additionally, fraud seems to be endemic in the paranormal field, and cases commonly accepted as legitimate have actually been successfully debunked (example: ITC, or "Spiricom").  Despite all, however, I still see the Betty Hill case as being (probably) legitimate. In my opinion, Dr. Simon was simply unable to conceive of any experience of a nonphysical nature that was not hallucination or fraud.  And Betty may have had some incipient flakiness that was pathologically affected by her experience. I have a small connection to the Betty Hill story that hints of a reality outside of the consensus; a story, maybe, for another time.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Messages Of Hope: The Metaphysical Memoir Of A Most Unexpected Medium

There's an old Vulcan proverb that says something like, "Only Nixon could go to China."  Those were my first thoughts on starting "Messages Of Hope."  Unlike other "How I Became A Medium" confessionals, the author of "Messages," Suzanne Giesemann, comes to the field with substantial establishment cred; per her website, she "is a retired U.S. Navy Commander. She served as a commanding officer, as special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations, and as Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11". She witnessed the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon. She "has a Master’s Degree in National Security Affairs. In addition to her command tour and duties as aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, she served tours in naval intelligence, taught political science at the U.S. Naval Academy, and was a plans and policy officer for the U.S. Southern Command."  To my knowledge, no one else in the public mediumship arena is better grounded in the mainstream of establishment America than Ms. Giesemann; so when she recounted her long path away from that mainstream into the esoteric world of communicating with the afterlife, I paid attention.

As she explains in the beginning:

Those who’d been dealing with the spirit world far longer than I had were forever talking about their guides as if they knew them. The former Navy officer in me always wanted to ask, Where’s the evidence?

Which is exactly the point. Somehow, as I've read confessionals from other mediums (including the well-know "psychic lawyer"), I've never been totally able to suspend my disbelief--not because I wanted to believe but wasn't persuaded, nor because I didn't believe but wasn't convinced otherwise--but because I know that it's very easy to make this stuff up. It's too easy to cherry-pick a cold reading and self-report a "successful" session when all the medium has done is bring through everyone's grandmother with the usual "heaven is nice" message.  In this case, the medium is the message. How do I know that the medium is telling the truth?  How do I know that the medium is not delusional?

Ms. Giesemann understands the credibility factor and front-loads her account with evidential material throughout; and while it's certainly possible that she's "making it all up," I'm inclined to think that she's not.

The catalyst to her mediumship journey is the tragic death of her stepdaughter. From there, she seeks out credible mediums in an attempt to contact her. After these initial successful contacts, she befriends several credible mediums and ultimately decides to enroll in Arthur Findlay College, a "boot camp for mediums" (though the curriculum goes well beyond basic training).

What Ms. Giesemann reveals in her subsequent sessions and experiences is consistent with accounts by other contemporary mediums, but I had an epiphany of sorts about halfway through the book:  There really is no such thing as a medium, per se. A "medium" is no more talented, "psychic," or "attuned" than the average person. A medium is simply a conduit... I suspect that all the heavy lifting is done by the "other side."  It is the "other side" that brings the survival personality to the medium, translates and focuses the message, coordinates the participants, and lends energy to the session. The medium simply listens, and repeats. A medium is simply someone who has learned to distinguish this information from the usual background mental noise that runs through our brain.

(Though this is probably an oversimplification.  Seth frequently discusses the psychological gymnastics required by the different layers of consciousness to allow this sort of "unofficial" information to get through.  Basically, the human ego instinctively filters out a wide range of information of this sort, and the human brain simply does not register it. The human ego must briefly "step aside" and allow information filtered through other layers of the personality to surface and be recognized. Seth argues that this aspect of the human ego developed as a survival mechanism, as the human race chose to focus exclusively on physical data.)

So her accounts of her sessions are quite interesting and evidential... And I was able to enjoy reading them without the niggling doubts that almost always accompany other mediumship books (i.e., "How do I know you're not just making this stuff up?")

But there's more to the book... Here are a couple of parts that I thought were unusual and interesting, not so much because of what they are, but because of the skeptical "prove-it-to-me" approach that Ms. Giesemann adopts.

For example, she experiments with "channeling": her normal consciousness steps aside, and her body seems to fall under the control of other consciousnesses (specifically, "Sally" and a Russian-accented "Boris"):

I heard the spirit woman tell us to call her Sally and that we could refer to the male spirit as Boris. I struggled to hold the link as my rational mind rebelled. Was some part of me making this up? The names seemed silly to me. Sally explained that they knew I would have a hard time believing anything they told me. She was right. My disbelief would only have increased if they had called themselves something more alien. 

“Names to us mean nothing,” she explained. “We in the spirit world recognize each other by our personal vibration. It is you humans who need to put a label on everything, and so we give you these names as a convenience.”

Boris and Sally appear regularly during the sessions for several months, giving information that is indistinguishable from the bulk of channeled messages: universally affirmative, generally uplifting, vague, and similar what you might find in an average self-help book.  After several months, Sally and Boris disappear and are replaced by "Sanaya," a personality that seems both a synthesis and evolution of Boris and Sally. Her messages are more fully developed and seem to originate from an actual consciousness rather than a caricature.

It would be easy to dismiss these entities as aspects of Ms. Giesemann's subconscious (and they may be), but I think that there is another mechanism at work. The bulk of channeled or "spirit" information, or hypnotically obtained personalities from "past lives," generally resists any attempts of verification. (See, for example, "The Siren Call Of Hungry Ghosts."). Past-life personalities spin elaborate histories of names, dates, and events that turn out to be completely bogus; elevated spirits solemnly predict future events that fall flat; and channeled personal advice, when followed, often leads to disaster. All this information seems to originate from fully-formed, independent consciousnesses that speak with authority. Where is the information coming from?  I don't think that we know. But I don't think that it comes "just" from the subconscious. As I've argued, we don't even know what consciousness is, much less what anything that is "not consciousness" is. The human consciousness is merely the small tip of a larger, more elaborate gestalt that exists (as Seth says) in "many dimensions."  We barely understand our own consciousness; we know nothing of these other aspects of the larger personality.

So, channeled spirit communications *may* be a) undifferentiated aspects of the experiencer's greater personality that manifest as ego-like communicants, b) mischievous discarnate personalities, c) "splinter" consciousnesses that have broken off from the larger personality and seek expression through the ego, d) actual independent conscious entities that desire to communicate, with varying degrees of veracity, e) independent gestalts of consciousness that appear independent, but aren't, and are drawn to the channeler based on the channeler's expressed wishes and interests, f) aspects of the channeler's "higher" consciousness or "entity" that are communicating verbally.... none, or at different times, any of the above. We really don't know.  But I think the whole experience is interesting, because it gives us a glimpse of the higher "powers" (if you will) or capabilities of human consciousness that we have not explored--yet.

In any case, "Messages" is more proof that the phenomenon, whatever it is, is real.

In another interesting section, "Sally" and "Boris" are asked about angels. Prior to this, Ms. Giesemann has a number of interesting synchronicities involving angels that seem designed to convince her that angels are real. Like me, she is a professed agnostic on the subject. "Angel" is code for "religion"; and the subject that has been heavily influenced by decades of superstition and misconception. So what are angels?  "Boris" explains:

Of the so-called archangels, this would refer in our reference to a being of sorts, yet with no form—an energy of a much higher order, an energy of pure consciousness that can be in many places at the same time, able to impress thoughts upon those in need of assistance. This energy is very real and available to all of you at all times, and as experienced throughout the ages, these different frequencies of consciousness have differing roles. There are those who help with the sickness, those who help with the grieving, who help with the location of missing objects: differing roles just as you have different roles on your earth plane.

So, the supplicant calls upon a higher power or force for help, and help is rendered. Throughout history, this has been a universal human impulse. In different eras, these forces have been called nature gods, associated with and guardians of physical locations; in other eras, they were named gods (Zeus, Athena) who were patron tokens of cities, nations, and races. Later they were called intercessory or patron saints. Like Ms. Giesemann, I'd rather not call them "angels," but I'm convinced not only by personal experience and the extensive anecdotal evidence that they are real.

So, overall, as a skeptical journey into the heart of mediumship, "Messages Of Hope" succeeds; and as an exploration into the varieties of human consciousness, there's much food for thought.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Hope for Hillary?

I haven't surveyed the current psychic climate for thoughts on the current Presidential election, but I ran across the following ... "Michael" believes that Donald Trump's resurgence is payoff to a karmic debt to Hillary from a prior lifetime. I see this as a tacit endorsement of Hillary by the Michael entity. (Not sure how this will square with God, who, as many will quickly tell you, is a Republican.) Sound reasonable?  Makes more sense than anything else that's been said about the Donald so far.

Monday, December 7, 2015

'Tis the season for a Seth quote...

Seth, the great expounder on all things material and non-material, arguably touched on every facet of the mid-twentieth century American experience (and even foresaw the trends of the present century).  So it's unsurprising that he had a few remarks concerning Christmas.

Jane Roberts was apparently quite non-religious, bordering on (if not outright) agnostic. It's useful to keep this in mind when reading Seth's discussions of God, Christianity, the Bible, and religion in general. Seth's nuanced and multifaceted religious observations did not come from Jane Roberts--they came from somewhere else. While I can certainly relate to Jane's experience, I choose to listen to Seth... For no other reason than he was in a better position to know.  So, from book five of "The Early Sessions," in view of the season, I present the following:

There were a few remarks that I intended to make concerning the Christmas season, and perhaps I shall make them now. 
If it seems to you that there is a great gap existing within Christianity, between ideals expressed, and actions, then let me tell you that conditions would indeed be far worse if these ideals had not initially been expressed, and if they were not yearly reaffirmed.
As you both suppose, enough constructive psychic energy is generated during the holiday season to recharge psychic batteries, so to speak, for quite some time. Were it not for this your whole race would be in much more serious a predicament. 
One of the reasons, Joseph, for your own lack of festive spirit in the past has been the result of your realization that this gap between idealism and action is great. You could not therefore enter into what you felt to be the hypocrisy of the season. All the more since you have no particular conviction, anymore than Ruburt has, concerning the historic existence of a Christ.
To some extent I have explored some of this, but it will do you well to join wholeheartedly into the very necessary spirit of the time, for it is constructive and most beneficial. And in so doing you help yourself and others.
------
This feeling that Christmas represented hypocrisy has been one of the main reasons for your own low spirits during the season, for it represented a rather deep disillusionment with the culture in which you were nurtured.
(Jane’s eyes now opened, and for the rest of the delivery they opened and shut often.)
The legend of Christ is of great psychic import however, and is intrinsically true. This does not mean it is based in historical fact. In many ways it is more true than historic fact, for man himself created that which had not been provided. The creation nevertheless happened in quite real terms, and is part of mankind’s inner recognition of the pyramid gestalts of which I have spoken. 
This was as close as man could come in his imagination to that which is, and this is all right. The basic idea behind Christmas is definitely important, whether or not the intellect is able to see its significance.

As an coda: As probably everyone knows by now, Art Bell has returned to... the airwaves?  Or to the Internet waves?  In any case, it's been ten years since he has had any significant public presence.  I'm just now catching up with his "inaugural show" with Graham Hancock. While I think that some of Graham Hancock's ideas are interesting, I've never been able to completely listen to any of his interviews--because he always sidetracks himself into a general rant about world conditions. That's where he's at now at my current listen. So I may not finish it. No offense, and no reflection. (It's the seductively listenable guests that I distrust; they're the sociopaths.) But if you have a yen to listen to paranormal radio, listen to Art Bell, not to that other guy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Two recent scientific examinations of the OOBE

I thought these might be of interest to the metaphysical community. The first examines the common experience of sleep paralysis and how it might relate to the perception of "alien abductions."

The author does not seem to recognize the OOBE as a valid non-physical experience; "sleep paralysis" is as far as science will go in describing that liminal state between sleep and wakefulness where the experiencer is fully conscious, yet unable to activate his physical body:

In the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, a delay occurs between the return of awareness and the activation of muscle control. Sleep paralysis renders a person awake and aware of her surroundings, but completely paralyzed for seconds to several minutes, though episodes lasting over an hour have been reported. Visual and auditory hallucinations often accompany the paralysis. People hear strange sounds, see ghastly figures, and can feel the presence of foreign beings in their midst.

There's lots (there are lots?) that I'd like to say about this, particularly in the parallels between "alien abductions" and "forced" OOBEs, which I've experienced, but I'll have to do it when I've wrapped my mind (brain?) around it better. The OOBEs that I've had and recorded are sufficient to prove that the experience is "real" on an objective, non-physical level, for me... And I've had some UFO experiences in my past. But I don't think that I've experienced enough to argue that "abductions" are just OOBEs.  Still, I believe that they probably are, just not your vanilla OOBE--but rather OOBEs involving multiple entities.

The second article explores the possible neurological basis for the OOBE itself.

I thought that the BBC article was fascinating on several levels, primarily because it accepts the OOBE at face value; it doesn't try to devalue or disqualify the experience or dismiss it as a hallucination. (It does insist, however, that there's a neurological basis for the experience.) I think that science is having to do this due to the sheer onslaught of NDE accounts where the core feature involves the experiencer looking down on his/her body.  The researchers have identified what I think is the central question of the whole experience: what, or who, is one's self-conscious identity?  Is our consciousness merely a product of our neurological activity, focussed exclusively in, and identified totally with, the physical body?  Or can it, and does it, stand apart?

Science argues the former, for good scientific reasons. For me to argue, "Consciousness does not depend on the brain; it is centered elsewhere," then I must be able to prove where, and what, that elsewhere is. ("God" and "spirit world" won't wash with the science crowd.) I can't.  The available scientific evidence certainly suggests that consciousness (and self-awareness) originates in the brain.

And yet...

If consciousness were strictly a byproduct of biological activity, then the classic near-death experience would not exist--at least not to the extent that it apparently does.  They can't *all* involve injuries to the "left posterior insula and adjacent cortical areas."

NDEs were largely unknown until the significant advances in emergency resuscitative medical care in recent decades.  The phenomenon has now entered the collective consciousness; it essentially did not exist prior to the 1970s.  As first-person NDE accounts continue to accumulate, I predict that the materialistic model of consciousness will become increasingly untenable.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Is absence of evidence, evidence of absence? The case for and against Michael D. Newton

Recently I stumbled upon a critical one-star review of Michael Newton's books at Amazon.com, which referenced a fairly detailed analysis/rebuttal of one of Newton's case studies. After sorting out the various criticisms, one overarching issue remained:  Who, in fact, is Michael D. Newton, PhD?  Is he a "real" doctor?  What are his qualifications?  Where did he obtain his degree?  Michael Newton is the well-known author of two major studies of hypnotically retrieved past-life accounts, "Journey Of Souls" and "Destiny Of Souls."

As I've written before, I think it's important that writers accurately represent their credentials, particularly if they expect to be taken seriously... We have enough laughing stocks in this field already.

So I've been on a quest. I found a forum or two where this very issue was raised--no one can find any proof that Dr. Newton obtained a "real" (i.e., from an accredited university, ideally not one of those for-profit outfits) Doctor of Philosophy degree--which is not the same thing as a medical degree.  I'll settle for PhD--that's hard enough to get.  I scoured all the available sources online and came up empty also.  But I did not find evidence of fabrication--only lack of documentation online.

Per Georgina Cannon, past life researcher, Michael Newton was a practicing "counselling psychologist/hypnotherapist" in the 1960s, continuing to work through the '80s and '90s in California, I think. He retired from active practice over ten years ago. The foreword to one of his later books, "Life Between Lives" (a discussion of his hypnotherapy practice) was written by Arthur E. Roffey, who *does* seem to be a real doctor (MD at that) who is currently certified and practicing.

Those who expect Google to pull up the full academic credentials of someone who retired from active practice in the last century are displaying a shallow understanding of the meaning of "online," I think. The Internet is probably the worst source for anything authoritative, detailed, and accurate about things that really matter (this humble blog included). The 'Net just doesn't work that way--it gives out only what has been put into it. You have to go to primary sources--real books in real libraries.

Now, the fact that we don't know where he graduated *suggests* that he might have gotten a phony degree from a diploma mill. But "real" doctors seem to vouch for his work, so I don't know.

My suspicion is that his PhD may be in a subject other than psychology. Anyone remember Dr. Ruth (Westheimer)?  Her doctorate is actually an Ed.D. degree in education, not psychology. The requirements for becoming a "master hypnotherapist" may simply be taking a few courses and paying a fee. When someone represents himself as a PhD who is a "master hypnotherapist," we assume that he is a psychologist, but he may actually be a Medieval Lit expert fluent in Anglo Saxon. (Which would be fairly cool, in and of itself, not to mention a good person to have over for a beer.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The new/old secularism confronts the existential unknown, and a Seth quote

I've come across another article that seeks to address the religious component of the "I visited Heaven and returned" genre of books. Essentially, this currently fashionable approach conflates traditional religious dogma with the "visiting heaven" movement... Because some NDE books have a decidedly Christian spin, the whole genre is tainted. The author concludes:

Reading these books catapulted me back into my evangelical past life, reminding me of who I might be still, had I not sought relief from the dissonance of biblical literalism. For me, the genre’s popularity was not a sign of resurgent faith, but symptomatic of faith’s waning – a last gasp at belief, a signal of a coming break.

I'm not sure that I can add anything to this debate that others haven't said better, except:  At different times in my life, I have both a committed secular, agnostic humanist, and a devout Christian fundamentalist. I have lived in both worlds.  Both times, I was convinced that I was completely right, and that the "other side" was sadly misinformed.  And I had an arsenal of facts and rhetorical tools to fling at the other side. Both sides have a fair number of ideological refugees from the other. What I see now, however, when I read the arguments of either, is the smug self-assurance of the one, and the devout moral superiority of the other.  I don't see anything that resonates as truth to me.

Maybe the transcendent nature of the NDE can't be understood with any of our current intellectual tools.  As with other facets of this multidimensional phenomenon, we will have to grow some new tools, or evolve a bit further, before we can assimilate it into our world view. We simply lack the experiential vocabulary now.

Somewhat along the same line, I ran across this Seth quote that fleshes out (somewhat) that enigmatic discussion in "Seth Speaks" involving the return of the "Christ personality" later in this century. Presumably, this return will come at a pivotal time in human history when, after some unspecified crises, humanity experiences a "shift" in consciousness.  The idea of this shift appears in a number of books and has been appropriated by the New Age movement. The more apocalyptic students of this New Age have made a number of predictions, describing, variously, end-world scenarios, axis shifts, and land mass changes. And all have been wrong. From Book Five of "The Early Sessions":

There will be a change in 100 years... when you will be able to see more... You will see through a growth of ability and consciousness... an enlargement... that has been growing for 500 years... the change began in the Middle Ages, existed briefly, died, then began again... It will involve an expansion of consciousness, not physical knowledge... You will directly and simply perceive more... I cannot make Ruburt find all the words. Your God is part of a larger reality. We see what we can see... This larger reality is also a part of our dreams: it is more important and vital than breath, for you are all part of this individually. There is a give and take between you and the stars on a physical basis, just as there is also a connection between selves and what you call a god. There is no real division between you and God and I... only a unity that you cannot as yet understand.

I'm stumped by Seth's allusion to the change that "began in the Middle Ages, existed briefly, died, then began again..."  Maybe a Medieval scholar (who's hopefully also a Seth student) will stumble across this and offer a clue. But I'm stumped, mostly because it's counter-intuitive:  Humanity *did* have a shift of consciousness at the end of the Middle Ages (triggered by the mass die-offs from the Black Death), but this shift resulted in the current dominant secular materialist world view (the Age of Reason). Seth seems to suggest that in the latter half of this century, another shift will occur, and it's not unreasonable to assume that it will also correspondent to a mass extinction of some sort (or sudden population reduction). Unfortunately, because we're not there yet, we can't know what this shift entails.

Perhaps it is an awareness of this coming shift that is inflaming both the secularists and the religionists. Both sides fear the triumph of the other; secularists fear that the hard-won achievements of science will backslide into superstition, and the religionists fear that materialism will eradicate any trace of that inner reality that still speaks to those who listen. But I think that Seth is saying that neither doomsday will occur. What is coming is a synthesis of the best of both, yet completely new, and, for now, unknown, and unknowable.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Helping the debunkers out

Recently I was searching for information online regarding Omm Sety (Dorothy Eady), the British lady who remembered a past life in ancient Egypt.  Unfortunately, the two main books about her quest ("Omm Sety's Egypt" and "The Search For Omm Sety") are not on Kindle, though I've had the paper editions for years. The story has long fascinated me. Wikipedia seems to have an exhaustive and sympathetic discussion of the subject--which is surprising, given the subject matter.

There's also a cursory review of the story at international skeptics dot com (I won't link to it for fear of bringing a boatload of skeptics down on my head, but it's easily findable). A poster at said forum is looking for help convincing his gullible paranormal-leaning wife that the story is bogus. The responders can't really help--there's no real debunking of the story to be found, and the skeptics conclude that it all boils down to the question of belief. Reincarnation can't be proven or disproven--you either believe in it or you don't.  And I tend to steer clear of blind, unquestioning belief. I'll lean toward the skeptics.

All which is very reasonable and true. But there's a problem.  Dorothy Eady's story may be hard to disprove. Learned Egyptologists as a whole were impressed with Eady's knowledge, and those are the only critics that I care about in this case. The others don't matter, not even Carl Sagan... They're just like me--someone with an opinion.

I did find one minor flaw in Dorothy Eady's story and I'm surprised that it's never been mentioned. In one of the two books (can't remember which one but probably "The Search For Omm Sety"), the child Dorothy is described as being very attracted to a local band of Gypsies, presumably because Gypsies came from Egypt--or so it was commonly thought. Of course, we now know that they didn't--the current scholarly opinion is that the migrated from northern India about a thousand years ago.  But Dorothy apparently though they did.

So, does this debunk Eady's story?  Not really... The young Dorothy was simply wrong, about a subject that she would in later life become expert at. But it is a flaw, and it's always bothered me. So in the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I'm compelled to bring it up.  And if the Dorothy Eady story is ever proven to be a complete fabrication, the skeptics can thank me later.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Seth Pilgrim's Progress

I'm still continuing my progress through Book 4 of "The Early Session" and I've run into something interesting:

You recall that all experience has an electrical reality, deposited from birth within the physical cells of the body, so that at physical death we have an electrical counterpart of the physical being with all memory and experience intact. Were such experience a part of the physical self, and dependent upon it, the personality could hardly survive physical death.

It's interesting to me because it suggests the basis by which we survive physical death. What is universally called "spirit" or "soul" within the NDE literature, Seth calls "electrical counterpart."  I prefer Seth's term because I can somewhat wrap my mind around it--just barely. But it does explain how consciousness quickly exits the body during the NDE and while remaining "conscious"--and it also explains something that I personally find remarkable, which I have experienced--while out-of-body, I am still "me" and aware that I am "me."  One of the more frequent observations by near-death experiencers is that personal memories are retained during

Seth goes into extensive discussion of the "electrical counterpart" (and the electrical world where this counterpart resides) in Book 3 of the "Early Sessions."  The discussion is quite complex and largely above my head.  Seth emphasizes that the familiar electrical traces the we detect with our physical instruments are faint shadows of this electrical universe.

So I wonder... Is this why street lamps blink off when certain people drive near them? (It happens to me quite often.)  Is this why the "dead" can easily manipulate our electrical devices?  Can this explain why I was never able to wear a mechanical watch when I was young without it becoming magnetized?  (I can wear them fine now--not sure what this says about me.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Seth on UFO "Disclosure"

From an informal session on September 3, 1965, summarized by Robert Butts (Book 4 of "The Early Sessions"):

(Seth had some very interesting comments to make when the conversation turned to flying saucers, and the recent rash of reports on such craft in the newspapers. The craft do exist, Seth said, and the action of governments in relation to them leaves much to be desired. I believe he used the word "pitiable" in this connection. Also, government people cannot bear to admit something they cannot explain. Seth said that nevertheless the government had a point when they tried to prevent public panic by denying the existence of such craft. A great danger at this particular time would be that an admission of the saucer’s existence would, strangely enough, serve to unite the far- left and far- right extremist groups in this country. These groups would unite in declaring the craft to be Russian, that they were much advanced over anything we have; this whole furor would create panic, Seth said. In six months such reasoning would not apply, because of impending developments in this country. This would presumably be because of the impending elections, though Seth didn’t say this in so many words. In answer to my question he said Barry Goldwater would not be one of the far- rightists to cause trouble. Nothing was said about the source of the saucers, their inhabitants, etc.)

Seth made several side references to UFOs in the various sessions, but never focussed on the subject in detail... I don't think that he saw the subject as vital. Overall, Seth stated that UFOs originate from different planes--some physical, some "mental."  There was no one specific locus of origin for the craft. Those familiar with Seth's discussions of "planes" know that a plane is not geographically related to any place in our physical universe; hence, there is no specific "where" that these craft might come from, at least in physical terms that we understand.

I can't find anything in the Seth writings to validate the more conspiratorial ideas of mass abductions or sinister hybridization projects... No warnings of impending alien takeovers--or rescues.

So, why did Seth not delve into the subject in detail?  We can only guess. But I suspect that any explanation that Seth might have given would have been lost on his contemporary audience, which saw the phenomenon in physical terms. They lacked the necessary mental vocabulary and reference points to properly frame the subject--and probably still do. Or, as Betty Hill's alien abductors reportedly her when she asked where, on their three-dimensional star map, their craft originated, "If you can't tell us where *you* are on the map, what good would it do to say where *we* come from?"

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Scientific perspective on NDEs

I stumbled upon this article unexpectedly and thought that it was worth linking.

I haven't studied it in-depth, but it does seem to regard the near-death experience as a unique form of consciousness. A number of patients were interviewed in a clinical setting for this study, and researchers recorded a number of brief observations similar (in some respects) to those made the self-selected experiencers who publish on Internet forums like NDERF.org.

(Hypothetical question: would an ND experiencer be more inclined to tell the "whole story" in a clinical setting to a trained observer, or on a semi-open forum that is perceived as being more "welcoming"?  Or, are the majority of NDERF.org respondents embellishing and confabulating their accounts?)

The most interesting observation--to me--is this:

The finding that conscious awareness may be present during CA is intriguing and supports other recent studies that have indicated consciousness may be present in patients despite clinically undetectable consciousness.

The reason that it interests me is that in a large number of NDE accounts, cardiac arrest is the trigger that launches consciousness from the body, something that the researchers seem to implicitly recognize. It serves as a boundary between physical and non-physical consciousness.  In plain English, the study is admitting that "CA patients really are conscious, even though we can't measure this with our instruments."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Beyond Sight: The True Story Of A Near-Death Experience"

By Marion Rome

This small book is possible the best-written, detailed and objective NDE account that I've found. It's available only on the Amazon.com Kindle as a download and seems to be self-published. I'll admit to not expecting much when I started it... But Ms. Rome does a masterful job at describing the "classic" NDE. I plan to read it a couple more times.

(Full disclosure: I have another flu / cold, so I'm not my usual faux-erudite self.)

Any student of the classic NDE scenario comes to expect certain touchstones in the various accounts (which I've sort of glossed over in previous entries, figuring that I would come back to the topic eventually).

It's hard to pick out the best part of the book to cite, because, really, it's all good... But if I had to settle on one snippet to excerpt, this would be a good one:


I am convinced that this heavenly place is here. Our world and that other world where we go after we die are the exact same one. Only the dimensions are different. There is a physical dimension and then there is a spiritual one, of which we can only access very small parts during our bodily lives, due to that very physicality. Our body is nothing but an envelope that hosts our soul for our time in the earthly sphere and, most importantly, it is something that prevents us from seeing and experiencing the real world. We cannot see everything with our eyes, in the same way that we cannot access the deepest levels of our feelings and emotions. Our soul, on the other hand, once freed from the constraints of this body,  certainly can, and it can in a way beyond everything we can possibly imagine.

I am still processing Joe McMoneagle's "Mind Trek," and this seems as good a place as any to ask, "So, what's the difference between an NDE, an OOBE, and a remote viewing?"  Because they are discretely different states of consciousness. Or are they?  Maybe it comes down to the amount of conscious energy allotted to the experience, and where and how consciousness is focussed. As someone who's had more than a few OOBEs, I can verify--from personal experience--that both McMoneagle and Marion Rome are accurately describing "real" states of consciousness that are accessible here, and now.  You just have to drop your physical blinders a bit to glimpse that fantastical "greater" reality.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Do you believe in the supernatural? Then you're delusional...

Thus was this week's teaser from New Scientist, which intrigued me.  Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall. But I've found a PDF of this week's issue, so I will see if I can find out if I am, in fact, delusional (assuming I hold any of the offending beliefs).

However--the author made a statement that echoes something I've said a few times: "Surprisingly large numbers of people also hold beliefs that a psychiatrist would class as delusional."  So--is the rightness of a belief determined by the majority?  Or by the scientist?  That's a red flag to me. Yet, I can't disagree with it.  Scientists are often right. (They are also often wrong.). In the end, I tend to agree with scientists who designate some beliefs as delusional. But only because they are held by people who are diagnosed as mentally ill. The belief, itself, may not be inherently delusional, but the believer may be, for a number of reasons. I make these sorts of distinctions... Does science?

I intend to find out.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spirit Guides: 3 Easy Steps To Connecting And Communicating With Your Spirit Helpers


I've decided to take a vacation from the usual, and I downloaded this short and inexpensive e-book. I haven't finished it, yet, mostly because I'm doing another unusual: I'm trying some of the techniques in the book. I consider the subject of "spirit guides" to be problematic to write about, mostly because it falls into the realm of belief, and I try to avoid that here. Plus, spirit guides are (generally) invisible--and I'm all about making the unseen and mysterious visible and comprehensible.

For the bulk of my life, not only did I not believe in spirit guides, I actively disbelieved in them. But I had a few experiences that forced me to change my opinion on the subject. I now believe. In my experience (plus what I've learned elsewhere), the influence of a "spirit guide" manifests in precognitive warnings, hints, suggestions and the like. For most, this information is veiled and disguised so that it blends seamlessly with our usual interior dialog. It rarely intrusive.

Because of this, it's easy to dismiss the whole subject. In fact, who's to say that all these promptings aren't manifestations of our subconscious, or "God," or even genuine precognition? I suppose that there really isn't any way to prove that spirit guides are behind all this--but I like to explain unknowns with the lowest common denominator. A certain portion of "spirit guide" information involves premonition of events that are impossible for the conscious ego to foresee. It also involves complicated arrangements of future timelines involving many people. It's just easier for me to imagine that there's a "someone" coordinating this behind the scenes.

So, how do spirit guides work (hypothetically speaking)? Well, based on everything that I've read, this depends on the guide, on you, on where you are in life, and what you need to achieve at your present stage. We all have a deadline--literally. There are things we must learn, experience and (hopefully) achieve while we're here. So, if you're on a tight deadline, your learning process may be accelerated. So, results may vary.

In my personal experience, however, the information comes primarily in two channels: reflectively, and via precognition. Reflectively--it's hard to summarize this, but frequently I have the distinct sense that "someone" is reminding me of random events from my past, almost as if to say, "Remember ten years ago when you did such-and-such?" It is always expressed as an open-ended question, with no judgement. But I always see a connection to my current predicaments.

Again, how do I know that these promptings aren't just my subconscious? I really don't know. But these past experiences are carefully selected, never random, and they are almost always things that I haven't thought about in years. There seems to conscious, deliberate intent behind the process. If I were simply neurotic (is "neurosis" included as a disorder in the DSM-5?), I would simply obsess over the same series of things over and over, and see no linkage with my present life. My experience is not like that.

Precognition is not as frequent, but it usually involves a certain "knowing" of what choice, action, or task to perform, in a certain way--to avoid harm, to myself and others, or to benefit others or myself. Most people recognize this as an "inner voice," or "something tells me I better do this or not do that." After having several of these experiences, I decided to take another look at the subject of spirit guides.

Update: I actually posted this entry Monday but pulled it down because I didn't like what I'd written. But I mentioned that I would try one of the techniques in the book. I tried the "Rapid Start Technique," specifically, expressing the question, "What is the one thing I can do tomorrow to improve my karma?" Yeah, I know--very New Agey. Once expressed, I actually went to sleep and forgot about it (which is always a given with me). I did not expect anything. But today (Wednesday) something happened out of the blue that caused me to dig up some memories and records from twenty years ago. It involved an extended family connection, a death, a funeral, as well as other things I had totally forgotten about. "This is odd," I thought. Then I remembered--my "rapid start" question. Was this an answer from a "spirit guide"? Maybe. Maybe probably?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"True Time Travel Stories: Amazing Real Life Stories In The News"

This small book is available free for Kindle Prime customers, and I recommend it as a good introduction to "alternative viewpoints" regarding time. Our culture views "time" as an absolute, a non-negotiable past, present, and future--in that order. Physicists (and careful students of alternative realities) know that "time"--if not exactly an illusion--is not the absolute that we perceive it to be. (Students of the Seth material are instructed that both time and space are illusions, not absolute laws of reality.)

Along this line: a recent article on retrocausality and the possibility that the future can influence the past. While science is pondering this possibility on a quantum scale, students of consciousness suspect that it happens on the macro level as well. Our experience of time is not absolute... Just as there are glitches in the Matrix, time can stand still, flow backwards, repeat, skip centuries, and bleed through the decades--as Richard Bullivant demonstrates through a number of intriguing accounts.

It was my personal observation of time anomalies as a teen that drove my quest into the whole alternative field, and it still fascinates me. I believe that there is a part of our consciousness that exists outside of chronological time. We aren't really aware of it--we remain stuck on the flypaper of time--but, if there *is* a part of our consciousness outside of time, it would leave traces, signs, in the form of precognition and synchronicities.

On a more dramatic level: One of the most remarkable aspects of remote viewing (beyond the fact that it even exists at all) is that chronological time is completely irrelevant to the remote viewer. The remote viewer can accurately view a target "before" it is even selected (through double-blind tests where the target is randomly selected many hours after the RV session); the remote viewer can accurately describe an event at a target that will happen well into the future (though the viewer experiences it as happening "now"); the remote viewer can immediately view a target that, in physical terms, is lightyears away. Time, and space, simply do not exist to the skilled remote viewer.

And, finally, a personal reminiscence--Anyone who grew up in the late '60s and early '70s surely remembers one aspect of the Kennedy assassination that's practically forgotten today: an explosion of popular articles listing a number of striking similarities between the Kennedy assassination of 1963 and the Lincoln assassination of 1865. I don't remember most of them anymore (they seemed very compelling at the time, though). The popular consciousness seemed to draw a link between the two events, separated by one hundred years. There might be something to it all, though. Looking holistically at the two events, how both occurred at the nexus of great social and civil change, it can be argued that the two assassinations were not two separate occurrences but rather two parts of the same "event"--separated by "time" and performed by different actors. If evolution can unfold over millions of years, why can't a seminal and liminal event unfold over a hundred?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Learning how to see (ponderings on "Mind Trek")

Something that may be overlooked in the study of Remote Viewing--but which becomes very obvious in Joe McMoneagle's account of his early RV experiences--is that the biggest hurdle that the remote viewer faces (aside from self-doubt) is learning, again, how to "see."  The beginning remote viewer is confronted with a jumble of disconnected images that only slowly form recognizeable gestalts. The RVer is "seeing" something but is unable to comprehend the images perceived. What follows is a period of training and conditioning where the beginning RVer learns, slowly, to assemble the raw images into a self-contained whole, and then, later, learn to associate what is seen with known objects in the physical world.

We face an identical predicament as newborns and infants--the world appears as a jumble of images--and over the next several years of development, with (hopefully) positive input from adults, the newborn builds the necessary neurological infrastructure to make sense of what is seen.  That is also why it's difficult to build a robot that "sees."  The robot can process images, but it does not automatically see the world that we see--like the infant and the beginning remote viewer, it must be trained.

I know that there's a fundamental truth in all this, and I may not be smart enough to articulate it. But what I think is that there may be some truth in the notion that the world that we see as physical, absolute, and "real," is in fact a constructed reality. Our brains and physical sense organs may not only perceive reality, but also construct it. There may be some merit to the argument that our physical world is actually layered with multiple realities and timelines.

Paradoxically, I can't explain why most near-death experiencers seem to be able to immediately perceive their immediate physical environment when out-of-body and recognize it as being identical to the physical. Why don't NDErs have to "learn" all over again how to see the physical world?

Both the NDEr and the remote viewer are using what Seth labeled the "inner senses."  It may be that the remote viewer has to filter what is perceived through the physical brain. The NDEr has no such obstacle. Seth argues that we have to learn how to use our inner senses, because we've forgotten how. "Learning" is largely a function of the physical world. Perception out-of-body is direct and (as Seth would say) "undistorted."  The moment we pull extra-sensory data into the physical brain, we distort it. The process of untangling this distorted data into something that makes sense is the "learning" part of remote viewing.

Overall, I think that within the phenomenon of remote viewing lies a profound truth about the nature of our reality, and it is the fear of this truth that causes the material scientists to reject it, and all extra-sensory perception.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Joe McMoneagle's "Mind Trek" is out on Kindle

But good luck finding it--it's not linked to the paper edition of the book.  And if you search for "Joe McMoneagle" on Amazon, only the paper books show up in the results.  Why?  Obviously, it's a conspiracy.  Someone doesn't want this information to get out.

I found the Kindle edition through my own back-channels and sources, which I won't (for now) disclose. However, at $5.99, it's a bargain. In "Mind Trek" McMoneagle discusses his NDE, as well as remote viewing of Mars. There is (or was) a Flash animation transcript of the RV session online which is quite intriguing. I've always wanted to have know more about this session, and now I can.

Also in Kindle format (and for a good price) are a couple of Ingo Swann books, including the infamous "Penetration," long out of print and very pricey.  Russell Targ has described "Penetration" as a work of fiction, and it probably is--though I suspect that there are some veridical elements in it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Adventures In The Hard Problem Of Science

I've spent a depressing week or so reading about recent frauds and scandals in NDE research, along with skeptical attacks by various online writing heads and self-anointed proxies of officialdom, so it was refreshing to read a recent discussion about the hard problem of science by cutting edge thinkers who seem to know what they're talking about.  I've blogged about this before, I know (though it's debatable whether anyone read it), but it's nice to see some constructive thinking for a change. To sum it up: for centuries, science has avoided any discussion of consciousness--largely because science has proven unable to explain the phenomenon--but lately, a few scientific souls have ventured, tentatively, the possibility that our consciousness is not rooted in the brain, but originates "elsewhere."

Cited in the article were two references to brain mapping:

Christof Koch, the chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and a key player in the Obama administration’s multibillion-dollar initiative to map the human brain, is about as credible as neuroscientists get. But, he told me in December: “I think the earliest desire that drove me to study consciousness was that I wanted, secretly, to show myself that it couldn’t be explained scientifically. I was raised Roman Catholic, and I wanted to find a place where I could say: OK, here, God has intervened. God created souls, and put them into people.” Koch assured me that he had long ago abandoned such improbable notions. Then, not much later, and in all seriousness, he said that on the basis of his recent research he thought it wasn’t impossible that his iPhone might have feelings.

As I've mentioned before, the concept of "brain mapping" is a recent one... Though I haven't checked, my hunch is that it was not a widespread concept until very recently--when President Obama launched his brain mapping initiative.  Yet it was predicted in "Seth Speaks" fifty years ago:

[In the twenty-first century] new areas will be activated in the brain to physically take care of them. Physically then, brain mappings will be possible in which past-life memories are evoked. All of these alterations are spiritual changes in which the meaning of religion will escape organizational bounds, become a living part of individual existence, and where psychic frameworks rather than physical ones form the foundations for civilization.

Interestingly enough, while the scientific cutting edge is toying with the idea that consciousness does not originate in the brain, "Seth" suggests that brain mappings will uncover currently unknown areas of consciousness that will indicate that "we" are more than our consciousness

Indeed, the most glaring oversight (to me) in the Guardian's analysis is the assumption that there is *a* consciousness--a singular thing that either you have, or don't have.  Anyone who has dealt closely with mental illness knows this simply isn't so. A human being can walk, talk, and behave as if on autopilot--yet retain no conscious awareness of the behavior and will deny any memory of it. Consciousness can leave the physical body, and, on rare occasions, an "alien" consciousness can invade the body and manipulate it. Consciousness can disintegrate, reassemble, throw off fragments of "itself," and reassemble into new personality gestalts.  What about quality of consciousness?  What about degrees of awareness?  Is a stupid and unaware consciousness the same "thing" as an evolved and aware one?  Is autism spectrum--a type of consciousness that interacts with our world in radically nonconventional ways--a "different" type of consciousness?

I first read Michael Newton's ideas of the "soul" originating from elsewhere and incarnating in a new physical body about a decade ago, and I still haven't made peace with the idea. Many people--not just materialists--resist the idea that the "I" that looks through our eyes and is largely synonymous with the physical body, does not, in fact, originate in the physical body. And the possibility that this "I" is in fact a blending of several consciousness--a "spiritual" one, a "body consciousness," plus random conscious "fragments" that we might pick up like viruses--is almost repellant. Yet--the logical, analytical part of me--whoever I really am--has to admit that it's the best explanation for the infinite varieties of conscious experiences that we have barely begun to acknowledge.