Tuesday, November 27, 2018

“Changed In A Flash” by Elizabeth Krohn

When the history of this time is writ (assuming that our species is around to writ it), I predict that the prevalence of the near-death experience will be seen as the seminal event that helped jump-start our acceptance of consciousness as independent of the physical brain. Presently, established science sees the possibility of an independent consciousness as a threat, but it will not be so later in this century—again, if we are around to contemplate it.
The latest entry in the near-death genre is the very good “Changed In A Flash” by Elizabeth Krohn. Elizabeth Krohn was struck by lightning while walking through a synagogue parking lot in 1988. She was knocked unconscious and out of her body, was ushered away from the scene by a spiritual presence, and then spent an extended period of time in a place she calls the “Garden.” During this stay in the Garden, she conversed with the spiritual presence—unidentified, but possibly her guide—for about two weeks before deciding to return to physical life. Though she experienced a lengthy visit to this plane, she awakened in her body to discover that only a few minutes of earth time had passed. Like most NDErs, she returned transformed and unable to completely integrate her new self with the life she had been leading. The bulk of the book discusses the changes that this causes, while over half of the text is given over to commentary by Jeffrey Kripal (which I didn’t read).
Though Ms. Krohn’s account is short, taking up only a few chapters, it is detailed, complex, and difficult for me personally to summarize. Unlike some other published NDE accounts, I think Ms. Krohn’s is valid. I was introduced to this book via Whitley Strieber’s Dreamland interview, and I found her to be a credible witness. As far as I can tell, she hasn’t appeared on any other podcast or paranormal show, and she doesn’t have a website hawking “readings.” All-in-all, she comes across as a down-to-earth experiencer with a miraculous story. And rather than recount her story, I’d like to do is highlight a couple of areas of interest that I think are important to the subject of consciousness studies.
The NDE event—fixed, not random
The oft-heard NDE admonition, “Go back, it is not your time” has been mainstreamed enough that it is now a cliche. Behind it, however, is a profound truth: the number of our days is largely set. Death is rarely an accident
 
What, then, of the near-death?
 
While I believe that we have “free will” and are allowed to make choices (and mistakes), a recurring theme throughout the NDE accounts that I’ve read is the idea that there is a time limit placed on our physical lives. This is a “hard” (non-negotiable) limit, though some experiencers are given an option to return to life. Most, however, are made to return, with the explanation from a spirit authority figure that the terminal limit of their lives has not been met (it is not their “time”). And while some near-death experiences are true accidents, others clearly are not—such as Ms. Krohn’s.
 
The sheer number of “random” choices and variables that would need to converge to produce one near-death event such as Ms. Krohn’s would (in my opinion) be impossible to calculate. Yet, Ms. Krohn was made to understand that this event was hard-wired into her life plan; the lightning strike had to happen, if not at that exact moment, then soon after:
I now know that had I not been struck by lightning on September 2, 1988, it would have happened on some other day. All the “what ifs” I can come up with no longer apply, because what was going to happen was going to happen. My guide in the Garden told me that, free will aside, the lightning strike event and all the things I can trace back to it were going to happen, regardless of what actions I may have taken on my own. Being struck by lightning was “in the contract” before I was born.

Ms. Krohn wrestles a bit with the free-will aspect of it all, but I think it’s safe to conclude that we retain free will for most of our actions—but some experiences can’t be skipped. These pre-determined experiences are ones that we have agreed to prior to birth. Being that Ms. Krohn’s encounter with lightning was meant to offer *near*-death rather than death, it is arranged in such a way as to offer her a return ticket to life should she so choose (the NDE was pre-determined, but the option to return was her free choice). The lightning strike occurred in front of a large synagogue “near a major medical center” with at least forty physicians attending a service at that moment, with one of the physicians “a doctor who had extensive experience treating victims of lightning strikes and electrocution.” The event was arranged that, should Ms. Krohn choose to return to life, she would be able to do so with minimum disruption.
 
Why this degree of planning and attention to an event where Elizabeth Krohn could have opted to die? This is pure speculation, but I believe that it was to allow her to return and tell her story.
Linear time exists as we understand it only for physically encarnated beings
Possibly one of the most difficult concepts in the Seth material, which he referenced in every book, is that of “simultaneous time.” Though Seth hammers this concept often throughout his material, I have never entirely understood it. I can glimpse fragments of the basic idea, and I have experimented with it, but as a whole, telling me that time is simultaneous is the same as telling me that time does not exist, which is experientially impossible. My brain refuses to accept it.
Ms. Krohn is forced to reckon with a non-linear time sequence in her NDE, which she goes to great length to explain. This suggests to me that she is describing a valid experience. Why expend so much effort to explain something profoundly inexplicable, if the inexplicable did not occur?
As I wrote previously, everything appeared to be happening all at once. But once I began to converse with my companion and receive information from him, time seemed to become linear again for the duration of my visit (or so is my memory here). I have come to understand that this happened not because time actually became linear for two weeks, but because I would have no other way of “decoding” the information I received in the Garden here in this world. The only way I can understand here what was told to me there is to remember it in linear terms. I know this is confusing. I honestly do not know if the near-death experience itself was linear, or whether I just need to remember it in those terms in order to decipher it. My gut feeling is that (a) time there was not linear, but (b) linear time is my only frame of reference here.

To the extent that I have tried to understand this matter of simultaneous time, I have concluded that our concept of time is restricted to a narrow focus on one linear thread that we measure with our usual tools, making events appear to be happening one after the other. Time outside of our context exists, but not as one restricted thread; it is multi-threaded, more expansive, and is not restricted to one event needing to follow one other. It includes more events, and the normal cause-and-effect sequencing is not determinate.

Maybe one way of comprehending simultaneous time is by looking at dreams. The difficulty of trying to remember a dream before it evaporates is universal, and it may give hints about the different uses of time at different stages of consciousness. Using myself as an example, many of my dreams do not have a clear moment-by-moment narrative; I have to create one while writing the dream down. I have to remember the dream story, along with the actors, and then work out what-happens-when. The process is akin to psychologically deconstructing an elaborate three-dimensional structure, flattening it, then pasting it onto the page, while hoping that I’ve captured enough of it so that some meaning is retained. And much of this difficulty is related to problems with time translation.

Current scientific evidence suggests that our concept and perception of time is rooted in the neurological structure of our brains​ (as this recent article suggests). Our brains are designed specifically to allow our consciousness to experience physical reality in a past-present-future and moment-by-moment way.

Why is this significant to understanding the near-death experience? Well, if consciousness can exist outside the physical brain, we would *expect* time anomalies in the extra-physical experience. And we would expect consciousness to have difficulty translating this experience after returning to the body.

If, however, consciousness cannot exist independent of a physical brain, it would experience, and remember, nothing of the NDE—and certainly nothing as detailed and veridical as the thousands of near-death accounts that we have available.
Aftereffects of an NDE: electrical anomalies
One thing that I have definitely experienced at various times in my life is an apparent inexplicable effect on electronic devices. When I was a pre-teen, I could never wear an analog watch—it would always stop running within a few days. I could occasionally stop a running watch simply by holding it in my hand. And I’ve had lights turn off after I’ve gotten near them.

After her NDE Ms. Krohn documents a number of problematic interactions with electronics. Strangely, despite this universal (and materially impossible) experience, I’ve never understood, much less thought about, why this was so. There really is no known scientific reason for this to happen—but it does, nevertheless.

Ms. Krohn gives a hint about the cause:
[The guide] told me about another kind of pain I would feel as I returned to my body. He said he would have to “help” me back into my body by hugging me tightly, so tightly it would feel as if my bones were being crushed. He explained that this was necessary because my expanded soul was much larger than my body, and it needed to be squeezed back into my physical frame. My understanding of the unconditional love, and everything else I had been taught in the Garden, was now part of who I was. This knowledge and understanding had expanded the size of my soul, which was now much larger than it had been when it departed my body.

I remembered the experience that I had a few years ago when my house fire alarm kept going off inexplicably when an acquaintance died in an auto accident. We had to remove the battery to get it to stop. The fire alarms of others who knew the woman also went off. The implication was that she was frantically trying to get the attention of those she knew by triggering their fire alarms, which she discovered that she could easily do.
So something about the non-physical body allows it to affect and influence electricity, although it (usually) can’t affect matter. OOB experiencers generally move through walls with ease, and their hands go through physical objects. But influencing circuits and electrical currents is something that the non-physical discover is quite doable, and many recently-deceased try to get our attention is by manipulating our electronic devices—turning lights, radios, and televisions off and on—in a way not dissimilar to how certain experiencers can affect electronics. This suggests to me that our non-physical essence—call it what you will—has an electrical component. When Ms. Krohn was returned to her body, she carried an extra spark that she didn’t have prior to her near-death. I don’t know if this is the same as the percentage of “energy” that we carry with us when we are born, but it might be. Michael Newton and others argue that the percentage of “energy” that we choose prior to birth is fixed and can’t be increased while we are living. But what if it’s changed during a near-death experience? Could a slight increase explain the electrical anomalies? This is totally speculative, and I know that I’m traipsing into scientific territory in an unscientific manner, but I think it’s worth pondering.
Parting thoughts
Elizabeth Krohn was in the “garden” for an extended amount of time, during which she received a download of information and had numerous questions answered. And while much of this information was likely erased when she chose to return to physical life, not all of it was. I truly hope that she takes the time to publish this information somewhere. I think it would be valuable. Each NDE account brings back a piece of a larger puzzle. And the puzzle is beginning to develop into a picture that we may need to understand.
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

“Pascagoula - The Closest Encounter” by Calvin Parker

One half of the 1973 Pascagoula abduction case, Calvin Parker, has recently published a book about his experience: “Pascagoula - The Closest Encounter.” The book is worth the read, despite haphazard editing. The Pascagoula abduction story is distinguished by several features that make it unique within the genre. Primarily, it occurred years before the Budd Hopkins book “Missing Time” popularized the experience, so there’s no contamination from popular culture. Secondarily, it was reported and investigated immediately by local law enforcement. Parker presents evidence that his abduction report was taken very seriously by the military. And, extensive parts of the abduction are recalled consciously by both witnesses. Arguably, the widespread publicity of the case inspired a significant UFO “flap,” which probably inspired a number of copycat reports, but there’s no indication that the two experiencers, Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson, were lying or confabulating. The case certainly made a big impression on me; was it the trigger for my own UFO “dreams” during this time? Possibly.

Unbeknownst to me and possibly everyone else until now, Parker subsequently met Budd Hopkins and underwent at least two regression hypnosis sessions. It is these that I find most interesting about the account, mostly because I am fairly sure that Parker (in contrast to many subsequent experiencers) is giving a faithful account of an experience that actually happened. There is no “I saw a light and then I blacked out” scenario that is then back-filled with “memories” retrieved by hypnosis. So, what happens when a “real” abductee is put under hypnosis, albeit by someone who is arguably not qualified to perform hypnosis and who might have an agenda?

The two regression sessions that Parker underwent explore the 1973 abduction, but another (apparently separate) session explored an experience of “missing time” that Parker remembers from 1993. It is this later experience that I find more interesting, because it suggests that Parker was not physically abducted. Rather, he was apparently pulled from his body and taken into a craft or vessel of some sort. The latter apparent abduction describes a “missing time” experience of at least twelve hour during a fishing trip in 1993. Parker reports going fishing just off-shore in Mississippi in the early morning. After being on the water thirty minutes, his next memory is looking up and noticing that it was nighttime. At least twelve hours had gone “missing” that he cannot remember or account for. He notices that the water and food he had brought for the trip had disappeared. The next day, his discovers that his ice bucket is full of fish that he doesn’t remember catching. Somehow, fish were caught, the food was eaten, but he remembers none of it.

A series of events and encounters leads him to a UFO conference, where he meets Budd Hopkins, who hypnotically regresses him to that day of missing time. Parker recounts:

and I remembered seeing a haze in the sky, like a cloud, it looked just like a cloud then it was directly over me about 500 feet high. It looks grey in color and I couldn’t tell how long it was. All at one time the bottom of this ‘cloud’ opened up. I started floating up with my back toward the craft and my face looking down at the boat. I noticed that I was still in the boat and I looked like I was asleep.  As I went into the bottom of the craft the door closed but I couldn’t feel the craft moving. I then saw what looked like a female approaching me. She was gray in color, with brown eyes that were really almost black. I wasn’t afraid at all because I knew for some reason that it was going to be alright and I would be safe. That’s when I finally came to terms with what had happen in October of 1973 (with me and Charlie) and it was now 1993. I don’t know what else may have happened as I must have come out of the hypnosis. I really don’t remember nothing more.

Parker doesn’t elaborate on this experience, unfortunately, nor does he seem to note the OOBE aspect—probably because, to many students of the phenomenon, a forced OOBE is harder to fathom than a literal physical abduction. While many of us will theoretically accept the possibility of a flying saucer snatching us from buildings, pulling our bodies through walls, paralyzing us and other witnesses, an OOBE is a bridge too far. But if, in fact, memories of abductions are actually forced OOBEs, the whole nature of the abduction experience changes.

I can personally fathom a scenario where consciousness is split, with the dominant personality being whisked into an apparent UFO, while the physical consciousness carries on as normal. It’s my hunch that the bulk of “abductions” are actually forced OOBEs. I’ve experienced this myself multiple times, and I recognize the stages of an out-of-body experience in the language used by abductees (paralysis, telepathic communication, floating through walls, flying through the air). The majority of my readers have likely experienced this also; it’s a universal experience, but rarely discussed or documented. The whys and wherefores of it are unknown, but this common experience might be one reason that UFO abduction reports are both widespread yet hard to prove; no physical trace of it is left, except a confused experiencer.

Of course, we are left with the question of who, or what, has the apparent power to suck consciousness from our bodies against our will. And what benefit would this serve to anyone?

Parker includes a full transcript of his regression session exploring his 1973 abduction. This is also interesting, but for a different reason. Students of Budd Hopkins’ regression sessions will recognize common themes in the Parker transcript, including an “evil” female alien that Parker seems to know from a lifetime of abductions. Did Hopkins “lead” Parker, either during the hypnosis, or prior to it, resulting in a “memory” of a stereotypical abduction with abusive, aliens? Unfortunately, we will never know.