8 - Traveling in the Superhologram
Time is not the only thing that is illusory in a holographic universe.
Space, too, must be viewed as a product of our mode of perception. This is even more difficult to comprehend than the idea that time is a construct, for when it comes to trying to conceptualize “spacelessness” there are no easy analogies, no images of amoeboid universes or crystallizing futures, to fall back on. We are so conditioned to think in terms of space as an absolute that it is hard for us even to begin to imagine what it would be like to exist in a realm in which space did not exist.
Nonetheless, there is evidence that we are ultimately no more bound by space than we are by time.
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.1
In a similar study anthropologist 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.2
In a survey of 902 adults Haralds-son found that 8 percent had experienced being out of their bodies at least once in their life. And a 1980 survey conducted by Dr. Harvey Irwin at the University of New England in Australia revealed that 20 percent of 177 students had experienced an 0BE.4
When averaged, these figures indicate that roughly one out of every five people will have an OBE at some point in his or her life. Other studies suggest the incidence may be closer to one in ten, but the fact remains: OBEs are far more common than most people realize.
In a 1980 study of 339 cases of out-of-body travel, Dr. Glen Gabbard of the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Dr. Stuart Twemlow of the Topeka Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, and Dr. powler Jones of the University of Kansas Medical Center found that a whopping 85 percent described the experience as pleasant and over half of them said it was joyful.6
They even hinted that patients might gain more relief by talking to a yogi than to a psychiatrist! 7
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
It wasn’t until she retrieved the shoe that she confirmed Maria’s various observations.
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.
Sabom selected two groups of patients, one composed of 32 seasoned cardiac patients who had reported OBEs during their heart attacks, and one made up of 25 seasoned cardiac patients who had never experienced an OBE. He then interviewed the patients, asking the OBEers to describe their own resuscitation as they had witnessed it from the out-of-body state, and asking the nonexperiencers to describe what they imagined must have transpired during their resuscitation.
Among the experiencers, 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, and like Clark, he has now become an ardent believer and lectures widely on the subject.
Although the OBEs experienced by such patients are spontaneous, 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. When Monroe had his first OBE in the late 1950s he thought he was going crazy and immediately sought medical treatment. The doctors he consulted found nothing wrong, but he continued to have his strange experiences and continued to be greatly disturbed by them.
Finally, after learning from a psychologist friend that Indian yogis reported leaving their bodies all the time, he began to accept his uninvited talent.
From that day forward 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.
Thus far he has catalogued his experiences in two fascinating books, Journeys Out of the Body and Far Journeys.
In a series of experiments conducted at the American Society for Psychical Research in New York, Karlis Osis and psychologist Janet Lee Mitchell found several gifted subjects who were able to “fly in” from various locations around the country and correctly describe a wide range of target images, including objects placed on a table, colored geometric patterns placed on a free-floating shelf near the ceiling, and optical illusions that could only be seen when an observer peered through a small window in a special device.14
Dr. Robert Morris, the director of research at the Psychical Research Foundation in Durham, North Carolina, has even used animals to detect out-of-body visitations.
In one experiment, for instance, Morris found that a kitten belonging to a talented out-of-body subject named Keith Harary consistently stopped meowing and started purring whenever Harary was invisibly present.15
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.
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.
Although some OBEers describe this phantom double as naked, others find themselves in bodies that are fully clothed. This suggests that the phantom double is not a permanent energy replica of the biological body, but is instead a kind of hologram that can assume many shapes. This notion is borne out by the fact that phantom doubles are not the only forms people find themselves in during OBEs. There are numerous reports where people have also perceived themselves as balls of light, shapeless clouds of energy, and even no discernible form at all.
Whiteman experienced various other forms as well during his OB adventures, including children’s bodies, and concluded that beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, were the determining factors in the form this second body assumed.14
Similarly, he believes it is the discomfort most people feel when they are naked that causes OBEers to unconsciously sculpt clothing for themselves when they assume a human form.
What is our true form, if any, when we are in the disembodied state? Monroe has found that once we drop all such disguises, we are at heart a “vibrational pattern [comprised] of many interacting and resonating frequencies.”16
This finding is also remarkably suggestive that something holographic is going on and offers further evidence that we - like all things in a holographic universe - are ultimately a frequency phenomenon which our mind converts into various holographic forms. It also adds credence to Hunt’s conclusion that our consciousness is contained, not in the brain, but in a plasmic holographic energy field that both permeates and surrounds the physical body.
But after I was back in my physical body and returned to retrieve the book I saw that the lettering was actually black. The literature is filled with accounts of similar discrepancies, instances in which OB travelers accurately described a distant room full of people, save that they added an extra person or perceived a couch where there was really a table.
A number of talented OB travelers have
noted that once they became more at home in their second body they
discovered that they could “see” in all directions at once without
turning their heads. In other words, although seeing in all
directions appears to be normal during the OB state, they were so
accustomed to believing that they could see only through their
eyes-even when they were in a nonphysical hologram of their
body - that this belief at first kept them from realizing that they
possessed 360-degree vision.
There is evidence that even our physical senses have fallen victim to this censorship. Despite our unwavering conviction that we see with our eyes, reports persist of individuals who possess “eyeless sight,” or the ability to see with other areas of their bodies. Recently David Eisenberg, M.D., a clinical research fellow at the Harvard Medical School, published an account of two school-age Chinese sisters in Beijing who can “see” well enough with the skin in their armpits to read notes and identify colors.17
In Italy the neurologist Cesare Lombroso studied a blind girl who could see with the tip of her nose and the lobe of her left ear.18 In the 1960s the prestigious Soviet Academy 0f Science investigated a Russian peasant woman named Rosa Kuleshova, who could see photographs and read newspapers with the tips of her fingers, and pronounced her abilities genuine. Significantly, the Soviets ruled out the possibility that Kuleshova was simply detecting the varying amounts of stored heat different colors emanate naturally - Kuleshova could read a black and white newspaper even when it was covered with a sheet of heated glass.19
Kuleshova became so renowned for her abilities that Life magazine eventually published an article about her.20
One cannot help but wonder if eyeless sight is actually just further evidence that reality is indeed maya, an illusion, and our physical body, as well as al! the seeming absoluteness of its physiology, is as much a holographic construct of our perception as our second body. Perhaps we are so deeply habituated to believing that we can see only through our eyes that even in the physical we have shut ourselves off from the full range of our perceptual capabilities.
This suggests that the realm people enter during the OB state is one of the subtler levels of reality Bohm speaks about, a region that is closer to the implicate and hence closer to the level of reality in which the division between past, present, and future ceases to exist. Put another way, it appears that instead of tuning into the frequencies that encode the present, Tanous’s mind inadvertently tuned into frequencies that contained information about the future and converted those into a hologram of reality.
Despite Whiting’s ignorance of who would be flying in or when, when Tanous made his OB visit she saw his apparition clearly and described him as wearing brown corduroy pants and a white cotton shirt, the clothing Dr. Tanous was wearing in Maine at the time of his attempt.22
When he makes an OB visit to the future he has sometimes even seen a silhouette of his future self in the scene, and this is not all. When the events he has witnessed eventually come to pass, he can also sense his time-traveling OB self in the actual scene with him. He describes this eerie sensation as “meeting myself ‘behind’ myself as if I were two beings,” an experience that surely must put normal deja vus to shame.23
As the playwright proceeded to describe the event he suddenly “lost consciousness” only to find himself sitting in the tavern in question and reliving the occurrence. The experience lasted only for a few moments, and then he abruptly found himself back in his body and in the present.24
The argument can also be made that the retrocognitive visions we examined in the last chapter in which clairvoyants had the experience that they were actually present during, and even “floating” over, the historical scenes they were describing are also a form of OB projection into the past.
Other OB travelers have also referred to the frequency-like quality of the Second State.
For instance, Marcel Louis Forhan, a French OB experiencer who wrote under the name of “Yram,” spends much of his book, Practical Astral Projection, trying to describe the wavelike and seemingly electromagnetic qualities of the OB realm. Still others have commented on the sense of cosmic unity one experiences during the state and have summarized it as a feeling that “everything is everything,” and “I am that” 26
The rub, with all due respect to Shakespeare, is that some travelers do return. And the stories they tell are filled with features that smack once again of tilings holographic.
By now, nearly everyone has heard of near-death experiences, or NDEs, incidents in which individuals are declared clinically “dead,” are resuscitated, and report that during the experience they left their physical body and visited what appeared to be the realm of the afterlife.
In our own culture NDEs first came to prominence in 1975 when Raymond A. Moody, Jr., a psychiatrist who also has a Ph.D. in philosophy, published his best-selling investigation of the subject, Life after Life.
Shortly thereafter Elisabeth Kubler-Ross revealed that she had simultaneously conducted similar research and had duplicated Moody’s findings. Indeed, as more and more researchers began to document the phenomenon it became increasingly clear that NDEs were not only incredibly widespread - a 1981 Gallup poll found that eight million adult Americans had experienced an NDE, or roughly one person in twenty - but provided the most compelling evidence to date for survival after death.
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.
A summary of a typical NDE is as follows:
It should be noted this is only a general description and not all NDEs contain all of the elements described.
Some may lack some of the above-mentioned features, and others may contain additional ingredients. The symbolic trappings of the experiences can also vary. For example, although NDEers in Western cultures tend to enter the realm of the afterlife by passing through a tunnel, experiences from other cultures might walk down a road or pass over a body of water to arrive in the world beyond.
The cross-cultural similarities between NDEs has also been confirmed in formal study.
In 1977, Osis and Haraldsson compared nearly nine hundred deathbed visions reported by patients to doctors and other medical personnel in both India and the United States and found that although there were various cultural differences - for example, Americans tended to view the being of light as a Christian religious personage and Indians perceived it to be a Hindu one - the “core” of the experience was substantially the same and resembled the NDEs described by Moody and Kubler-Ross.27
In another case, after leaving her body, a female NDEer went to the hospital lobby and overheard 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 pallbearers. After the woman recovered, she reprimanded her astonished brother-in-law for writing her off so quickly.29
Kubler-Ross has encountered several such individuals and has interviewed them at length to determine their accuracy. ‘To our amazement, they were able to describe the color and design of clothing and jewelry the people present wore,” she states.30
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.
Moody echoes the sentiment and says that twenty years of research have convinced him that NDEers have indeed ventured into another level of reality.
He believes that most other NDE researchers feel the same.
As a result of his 1981 survey, even George Gallup, Jr., the president of the Gallup Poll, agrees:
These are astounding assertions.
What is even more astounding is that the scientific establishment has for the most part ignored both the conclusions of these researchers and the vast body of evidence that compels them to make such statements. The reasons for this are complex and varied.
One is that it is currently not fashionable in science to consider seriously any phenomenon that seems to support the idea of a spiritual reality, and, as mentioned at the beginning of this book, beliefs are like addictions and do not surrender their grip easily.
Another reason, as Moody mentions, is the widespread prejudice among scientists that the only ideas that have any value or significance are those that can be proven in a strict scientific sense. Yet another is the inability of our current scientific understanding of reality even to begin to explain NDEs if they are real.
Put bluntly, Ring believes that NDEs are also ventures into the more frequency-like aspects of reality.
Some NDEers even refer to the celestial music that often accompanies such experiences as more “a combination of vibrations” than actual sounds - observations that Ring believes are evidence that the act of dying involves a shift of consciousness away from the ordinary world of appearances and into a more holographic reality of pure frequency.
NDEers also frequently say that the realm is suffused with a light more brilliant than any they have ever seen on earth, but one that, despite its unfathomable intensity, does not hurt the eyes, characterizations that Ring feels are further evidence of the frequency aspects of the hereafter.
One of the most commonly reported characteristics of the world beyond is that it is a dimension in which time and space cease to exist.
Given that time and space are collapsed and location has no meaning in the frequency domain, this is precisely what we would expect to find if NDEs take place in a holographic state of consciousness, says Ring.
Given that both OBEs and NDEs offer ample evidence that the mind can exist independently of the brain, Ring believes it is not too farfetched to assume that it, too, functions holographically. Thus, when the mind is in the “higher” frequencies of the near-death dimension, it continues to do what it does best, translate those frequencies into a world of appearances.
Or as Ring puts it,
Ring is not alone in his speculations. In the keynote address for the 1989 meeting of the International Association for Near-Death Studies UANDS), 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, fleers, physical structures and so forth, of the afterlife dimension are fashioned out of interacting (or interfering) thought patterns.
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 jellyfish" 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 (the women, however, never offered any indication that they were able to see any of this).40
Similarly, another man who studied his hands while in the ND state said they were “composed of light with tiny structures in them” and when he looked closely he could even see “the delicate whorls of his fingerprints and tubes of light up his arms.”42
In fact, according to Whitton’s subjects the main purpose of the life review was to refresh their memories so they could more mindfully plan their next life, a process in which the beings of light gently and non-coercively assisted.
This was especially true when it came to the form Whitton’s patients assumed in the between-life state. Several said they didn’t even have a body unless they were thinking.
At first the bodies Whitton’s subjects assumed resembled the persons they had been in their last life. But as their experience in the between-life state continued, they gradually became a kind of hologram-like composite of all of their past lives.45
This composite identity even had a name separate from any of the names they had used in their physical incarnations, although none of his subjects was able to pronounce it using their physical vocal cords.46
Many say that they were not aware of any form and were simply “themselves” or “their mind.” Others have more specific impressions and describe themselves as “a cloud of colors,” “a mist,” “an energy pattern,” or “an energy field,” terms that again suggest that we are all ultimately just frequency phenomena, patterns of some unknown vibratory energy enfolded in the greater matrix of the frequency domain.
Some NDEers assert that in addition to being composed of colored frequencies of light, we are also constituted out of sound.
The woman, who encountered many individuals in the afterlife realm who manifested only as clouds of colors and sound, believes the mellifluous tones each soul emanates are what people are describing when they say they hear beautiful music in the ND dimension.47
Like Monroe, some NDEers report being able to see in all directions at once while in the disembodied state. After wondering what he looked like, one man said he suddenly found himself staring at his own back.48
Robert Sullivan, an amateur NDE researcher from Pennsylvania who specializes in NDEs by soldiers during combat, interviewed a World War II veteran who temporarily retained this ability even after he returned to his physical body.
Another part of the NDE that possesses many holographic features is the life review.
Ring refers to it as “a holographic phenomenon par excellence.” Grof and Joan Halifax, a Harvard medical anthropologist and the coauthor (with Grof) of The Human Encounter with Death., have also commented on the life review’s holographic aspects.
According to several NDE researchers, including Moody, even many NDEers themselves use the term “holographic” when describing the experience.50
Again and again NDEers use the same adjectives to describe it, referring to it as an incredibly vivid, wrap-around, three-dimensional replay of their entire life.
During this instantaneous and panoramic remembrance NDEers reexperience all the emotions, the joys and the sorrows, that accompanied all of the events in their life.
More than that, they feel all of the emotions of the people with whom they have interacted as well. They feel the happiness of all the individuals to whom they’ve been kind. If they have committed a hurtful act, they become acutely aware of the pain their victim felt as a result of their thoughtlessness.
And no event seems too trivial to be exempt While reliving a moment in her child hood, one woman suddenly experienced all the loss and powerlessness her sister had felt after she (then a child) snatched a toy away from her sister.
Reveries, faces glimpsed once but remembered for years, things that made one laugh, the joy one felt when gazing at a particular painting, childish worries, and long forgotten daydreams - all flit through one’s mind in a second.
As one NDEer summarizes,
And so, the life review is holographic not only in its three-dimensionality, but in the amazing capacity for information storage the process displays.
It is also holographic in a third way. Like the kabbalistic “aleph,” a mythical point in space and time that contains all other points in space and time, it is a moment that contains all other moments. Even the ability to perceive the life review seems holographic in that it is a faculty capable of experiencing something that is paradoxically at once both incredibly rapid and yet slow enough to witness in detail.
As an NDEer in 1821 put it, it is the
ability to “simultaneously comprehend the whole and every part.”54
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.
One of Whitton’s subjects reported that after living several withdrawn and depressed incarnations he was urged to plan a life as an amorous and sexually active female in order to add balance to the overall development of his soul.55 It appears that in the minds of the beings of light, compassion is the barometer of grace, and time and time again when NDEers wonder if some act they committed was right or wrong, the beings counter their inquiries only with a question:
Did you do it out of love? Was the motivation love?
States one little boy who after being hit by a car was guided into the world beyond by two people in “very white” robes:
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.
Others are prodded with statements such as,
The preeminence of knowledge in the afterlife dimension is apparent in another way.
Some NDEers discovered that in the presence of the light they suddenly had direct access to all knowledge. This access manifested in several ways. Sometimes it came in response to inquiries. One man said that all he had to do was ask a question, such as what would it be like to be an insect, and instantly the experience was his.57
Another NDEer described it by saying,
Some NDEers report that they didn’t even have to ask questions in order to access this infinite library of information.
Following their life review they just suddenly knew everything, all the knowledge there was to know from the beginning of time to the end. Others came into contact with this knowledge after the being of light made some specific gesture, such as wave its hand. Still others said that instead of acquiring the knowledge, they remembered it, but forgot most of what they recalled as soon as they returned to their physical bodies (an amnesia that seems to be universal among NDEers who are privy to such visions).59
Whatever the case, it appears that once
we are in the world beyond, it is no longer necessary to enter an
altered state of consciousness in order to have access to the
transpersonal and infinitely interconnected informational realm
experienced by Grof's patients.
In addition to being holographic in all the ways already mentioned, this vision of total knowledge has another holographic characteristic. NDEers often say that during the vision the information arrives in “chunks” that register instantaneously in one’s thoughts. In other words, rather than being strung out in a linear fashion like words in a sentence or scenes in a movie, all the facts, details, images, and pieces of information burst into one’s awareness in an instant. One NDEer referred to these bursts of information as “bundles of thought”60
Monroe, who has also experienced such instantaneous explosions of information while in the OB state, calls them “thought balls.”61
For instance, sometimes when I meet a stranger (and on occasion even when I just hear a person’s name), a thought ball of information about that person will instantly flash into my awareness. This thought ball can include important facts about the person’s psychological and emotional makeup, their health, and even scenes from their past. I find that I am especially prone to getting thought balls about people who are in some kind of crisis.
For example, recently I met a woman and instantly knew she was contemplating suicide. I also knew some of the reasons why. As I always do in such situations, I started talking to her and cautiously maneuvered the conversation to things psychic. After finding out that she was receptive to the subject, I confronted her with what I knew and got her to talk about her problems. I got her to promise to seek some kind of professional counseling instead of the darker option she was considering.
When asked this question NDEers replied that they weren’t certain, but felt strongly that it had something to do with the purpose of life and the ability of each individual to reach out and help others.
Like Whitton, NDE researchers have also uncovered evidence that our lives are planned beforehand, at least to some extent, and we each play a role in the creation of this plan.
This is apparent in several aspects of the experience. Frequently after arriving in the world of light, NDEers are told that “it is not their time yet.” As Ring points out, this remark clearly implies the existence of some kind of “life plan.”63
It is also clear that NDEers play a role in the formulation of these destinies, for they are often given the choice whether to return or stay. There are even instances of NDEers being told that it is their time and still being allowed to return. Moody cites a case in which a man started to cry when he realized he was dead because he was afraid his wife wouldn’t be able to raise their nephew without him. On hearing this the being told him that since he wasn’t asking for himself he would be allowed to return.64
In another case a woman argued that she hadn’t danced enough yet. Her remark caused the being of light to give a hearty laugh and she, too, was given permission to return to physical life.65
Decades later and after each of these predictions had come to pass, he found himself in the very scene he had witnessed as a child and realized that the strange object on the wall was a “forced-air heater,” a kind of heater that had not yet been invented at the time of his NDE.66
That Halloween Moody’s son was out trick-or-treating and knocked on the woman’s door. After hearing the boy’s name, the woman told him to tell his father she had to talk to him, and when Moody obliged she related her remarkable story.67
The vision revealed that if these events, the precise nature of which the woman does not disclose, had failed to take place, we would now be living in a world of peace and harmony marked “by the absence of religious wars and of a Christ figure.”68 Such experiences suggest that the laws of time and space operative in a holographic universe may be very strange indeed.
As a sixty-two-year-old businessman who had an NDE during a cardiac arrest puts it,
You Can Eat but You Don’t Have To
The holographic and mind-created aspects of the near-death dimension are apparent in myriad other ways.
In describing the hereafter one child said that food appeared whenever she wished for it, but there was no need to eat, an observation that underscores once again the illusory and hologram-like nature of afterlife reality.70
Even the symbolic language of the psyche is given “objective” form. For example, one of Whitton’s subjects said that when he was introduced to a woman who was going to figure prominently in his next life, instead of appearing as a human she appeared as a shape that was half-rose, half-cobra. After being directed to figure out the meaning of the symbolism, he realized that he and the woman had been in love with one another in two other lifetimes.
However, she had also twice been responsible for his death. Thus, instead of manifesting as a human, the loving and sinister elements of her character caused her to appear in a hologram-like form that better symbolized these two dramatically polar qualities.71
For example, a being that had great
strength might appear with the head of a lion, or a being that was
unusually smart and crafty might have some of the features of a fox.
Khan theorized that this is why ancient cultures, such as the
Egyptian, pictured the gods that rule the afterlife realm as having
The plasticity of the ND realm suggests that such outward appearances may be no more or less real than the food wished into existence by the little girl mentioned above, the woman who appeared as an amalgam of a cobra and a rose, and the spectral clothing conjured into existence by the NDEer who was embarrassed at his own nakedness.
This same plasticity explains the other cultural differences one finds in near-death experiences, such as why some NDEers reach the hereafter by traveling through a tunnel, some by crossing a bridge, some by going over a body of water, and some simply by walking down a road. Again it appears that in a reality created solely out of interacting thought structures, even the landscape itself is sculpted by the ideas and expectations of the experiencer.
Indeed, Sai Baba’s abilities suggest that we can even materialize food simply by wishing for it, and Therese Neumann’s inedia offers evidence that eating may ultimately be as unnecessary for us as it is for individuals in the near-death realm.
Put another way, our reality appears to be a more frozen version of the afterlife dimension. It takes a little more time for our beliefs to re-sculpt our bodies into things like nail-like stigmata and for the symbolic language of our psyches to manifest externally as synchronizes.
But manifest they do, in a slow and inexorable river, a river whose persistent presence teaches us that we live in a universe we are only just beginning to understand.
One does not have to be in a life-threatening crisis to visit the afterlife dimension.
There is evidence that the ND realm can also be reached during OBEs. In his writings, Monroe describes several visits to levels of reality in which he encountered deceased friends.73 An even more skilled out-of-body visitor to the land of the dead was Swedish mystic Swedenborg.
Born in 1688, Swedenborg was the Leonardo da Vinci of his era. In his early years he studied science. He was the leading mathematician in Sweden, spoke nine languages, was an engraver, a politician, an astronomer, and a businessman, built watches and microscopes as a hobby, wrote books on metallurgy, color theory, commerce, economics, physics, chemistry, mining, and anatomy, and invented prototypes for the airplane and the submarine.
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.
He also says that he was allowed to observe firsthand the arrival of the newly deceased in heaven, and watch as they were subjected to the life review, a process he called “the opening of the Book of Lives.”
He acknowledged that during the process a person witnessed “everything they had ever been or done,” but added a unique twist According to Swedenborg, the information that arose during the opening of the Book of Lives was recorded in the nervous system of the person’s spiritual body. Thus, in order to evoke the life review an “angel” had to examine the individual’s entire body “beginning with the fingers of each hand, and proceeding through the whole.”75
Swedenborg’s experiences even corroborate some of the less commonly reported elements of the NDE. He noted that in the spirit world one no longer needs to eat food, but added that information takes its place as a source of nourishment.78
He said that when spirits and angels talked, their thoughts were constantly coalescing into three dimensional symbolic images, especially animals. For example, he said that when angels talked about love and affection “beautiful animals are presented, such as lambs - When however the angels are talking about evil affections, this is portrayed by hideous, fierce, and useless animals, like tigers, bears, wolves, scorpions, snakes, and mice.”79
Although it is not a feature reported by modern NDEers, Swedenborg said that he was astonished to find that in heaven there are also spirits from other planets, an astounding assertion for a man who was born over three hundred years ago! 80
Most intriguing of all are those remarks by Swedenborg that seem to refer to reality’s holographic qualities. For instance, he said that although human beings appear to be separate from one another, we are all connected in a cosmic unity. Moreover, each of us is a heaven in miniature, and every person, indeed the entire physical universe, is a microcosm of the greater divine reality.
As we have seen, he also believed that underlying visible reality was a wave-substance.
Dole, who holds degrees from Yale, Oxford, and Harvard, notes that one of the most basic tenets of Swedenborg’s thinking is that our universe is constantly created and sustained by two wavelike flows, one from heaven and one coming from our own soul or spirit.
Swedenborg also believed that, despite its ghostlike and ephemeral qualities, heaven is actually a more fundamental level of reality than our own physical world.
It is, he said, the archetypal source from where all earthly forms originate, and to which all forms return, a concept not too dissimilar from Bohm’s idea of the implicate and explicate orders. In addition, he too believed that the afterlife realm and physical reality are different in degree but not in kind, and that the material world is just a frozen version of the thought-built reality of heaven.
The matter that comprises both heaven and earth “flows in by stages” from the Divine, said Swedenborg, and “at each new stage it becomes more genera] and therefore coarser and hazier, and it becomes slower, and therefore more viscous and colder.” 82
He earnestly replied:
The Land of Nonwhere
Swedenborg is not the only individual in history who possessed the ability to make out-of-body journeys to the subtler levels of reality.
The twelfth-century Persian Sufis also employed deep trancelike meditation to visit the “land where spirits dwell.”
And again, the parallels between their reports and the body of evidence that has accrued in this chapter are striking. They claimed that in this other realm one possesses a “subtle body” and relies on senses that are not always associated with “specific organs” in that body. They asserted that it is a dimension populated by many spiritual teachers, or imams, and sometimes called it “the country of the hidden Imam.”
Even space itself, including “nearness,” “distances,” and “far-off” places, was created by thought. But this did not mean that the country of the hidden Imam was unreal, a world constituted out of sheer nothingness. Nor was it a landscape created by only one mind. Rather it was a plane of existence created by the imagination of many people, and yet one that still had its own corporeality and dimension) its own forests, mountains, and even cities.
The Sufis devoted a good deal of their writings to the clarification of this point.
So alien is this idea to many Western thinkers that the late Henry Corbin, a professor of Islamic Religion at the Sorbonne in Paris and a leading authority in Iranian-Islamic thought, coined the term imaginal to describe it, meaning a world that is created by imagination but is ontologically no less real than physical reality.
Because of the imaginal nature of the afterlife realm, the Sufis concluded that imagination itself is a faculty of perception, an idea that offers new light on why Whitton’s subject materialized a hand only after he started thinking, and why visualizing images has such a potent effect on the health and physical structure of our bodies.
It also contributed to
the Sufis’ belief that one could use visualization, a process they
called “creative prayer,” to alter and reshape the very fabric of
However, even the most learned among them found this strange, that by meditating and venturing deep into the psyche one arrived in an inner world that “turns out to envelop, surround, or contain that which at first was outer and visible.”85
Indeed, in discussing the nonlocal aspects of the afterlife realm, a twelfth-century Persian mystic named Sohrawardi said that the country of the hidden Imam might better be called Na-Koja-Abad, “the land of nonwhere.”86
What is new is the idea that such notions are actually references to the nonlocal aspects of the subtler levels of reality. Again, it is suggested that when a person has an OBE they might not actually travel anywhere. They might be merely altering the always illusory hologram of reality so that they have the experience of traveling somewhere. In a holographic universe not only is consciousness already everywhere, it too is nonwhere.
Bohm offers a similarly nonlocal view of what happens during our transition from this life to the next:
The idea that the subtler levels of reality can be accessed through a shift in consciousness alone is also one of the main premises of the yogic tradition.
Many yogic practices are designed specifically to teach individuals how to make such journeys. And once again, the individuals who succeed in these ventures describe what is by now a familiar landscape.
One such individual was Sri Yukteswar Giri, a little known but widely respected Hindu holy man who died in Puri, India, in 1936. Evans-Wentz, who met Sri Yukteswar in the 1920s, described him as a man of “pleasing presence and high character” fully “worthy of the veneration that his followers accorded him.”89
Sri Yukteswar appears to have been especially gifted at passing back and forth between this world and the next and described the afterlife dimension as a world composed of “various subtle vibrations of light and color” and “hundreds of times larger than the material cosmos.” He also said that it was infinitely more beautiful than our own realm of existence, and abounded with “opal lakes, bright seas, and rainbow rivers.”
Because it is more “vibrant with God’s creative light” its weather is always pleasant, and its only climatic manifestations are occasional falls of “luminous white snow and rain of many-colored lights.”
They communicate through a telepathic
series of “light pictures,” rejoice at “the immortality of
friendship,” realize “the indestructibility of love,” feel keen pain
“if any mistake is made in conduct or perception of truth,” and when
they are confronted with the multitude of relatives, fathers,
mothers, wives, husbands, and friends acquired during their
“different incarnations on earth,” they are at a loss as to whom to
love especially and thus learn to give “a divine and equal love to
What is the quintessential nature of our reality once we take up residence in this luminous land?
To this question, Sri Yukteswar gave an answer that was as simple as it was holographic.
In this realm where eating and even breathing are unnecessary, where a single thought can materialize a “whole garden of fragrant flowers,” and all bodily injuries are “healed at once by mere willing,” we are, quite simply, “intelligent and coordinated images of light.”90
Sri Yukteswar is not the only yogic teacher to use such hologram-like terms when describing the subtler levels of reality.
Another is Sri Aurobindo Ghose, a thinker, political activist, and mystic whom Indians revere alongside Gandhi. Born in 1872 to an upper-class Indian family, Sri Aurobindo was educated in England, where he quickly developed the reputation as a kind of prodigy. He was fluent not only in English, Hindi, Russian, German, and French, but also in ancient Sanskrit.
He could read a case of books a day (as a youth he read all of the many and voluminous sacred books of India) and repeat verbatim every word on every page that he read. His powers of concentration were legendary, and it was said that he could sit studying in the same posture all night long, oblivious even to the incessant bites of the mosquitoes.
But it is also a necessary one, for the yogic texts are quite explicit on this point. To plumb the subtler and more implicate regions of the psyche does indeed require a Bohmian shift of attention.
Or as Sri Aurobindo put it, to discover the “new country within us” we must first learn how “to leave the old one behind.”
These beings can take on any form at will, said Sri Aurobindo, the same being appearing to a Christian as a Christian saint and to an Indian as a Hindu one, although he stressed that their purpose is not to deceive, but merely to make themselves more accessible “to a particular consciousness.”
He asserted that consciousness is also composed of different vibrations and believed that all matter is to some degree conscious. Like Bohm, he even asserted that psychokinesis is a direct result of the fact that all matter is to some degree conscious. If matter were not conscious, no yogi could move an object with his mind because there would be no possibility of contact between the yogi and the object, Sri Aurobindo says.
We fragment things because we exist at a lower vibration of consciousness and reality, says Sri Aurobindo, and it is our propensity for fragmentation that keeps us from experiencing the intensity of consciousness, joy, love, and delight for existence that are the norm in these higher and more subtle realms.
So convinced was he that any attempt to reduce the universe into absolute facts and unchangeable doctrine only led to distortion that he was even against religion, and all his life emphasized that the true spirituality came not from any organization or priesthood, but from the spiritual universe within:
But if the cosmos is ultimately ineffable, a farrago of multicolored vibrations, what are all the forms we perceive? What is physical reality? It is, said Sri Aurobindo, just “a mass of stable light.”92
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.
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.”93
An expert on shamanism who is also active in near-death research, Kaiweit points out that virtually all of the world’s shamanic traditions contain descriptions of this vast and extradimensional realm, replete with references to the life review, higher spiritual beings who teach and guide, food conjured up out of thought, and indescribably beautiful meadows, forests, and mountains.
Indeed, not only is the ability to travel into the afterlife realm the most universal requirement for being a shaman, but NDEs are often the very catalyst that thrusts an individual into the role.
For instance, the Oglala Sioux, the Seneca, the Siberian Yakut, the South American Guajiro, the Zulu, the Kenyan Kikuyu, the Korean Mu dang, the Indonesian Mentawai Islanders, and the Caribou Eskimo - all have traditions of individuals who became shamans after a life-threatening illness propelled them headlong into the afterlife realm.
Why? Kaiweit believes it is because such experiences are a daily reality for such cultures. Whereas our society suppresses any thoughts or mention of death and dying, and has devalued the mystical by defining reality strictly in terms of the material, tribal peoples still have day-to-day contact with the psychic nature of reality.
Thus, they have a better understanding of the rules that govern these inner realms, says Kaiweit, and are much more skilled at navigating their territories.94
He agreed and after drinking the bitter concoction had an out-of-body experience in which he traveled 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 Egypti an-style figures with blue-jay heads; and he felt what he thought was the slow, advancing numbness of his own death.
Through a kind of “thought language” they explained that they were responsible for both the origin and evolution of all life on the planet. Indeed, they resided not only in human beings, but in all life, and had created the multitude of living forms that populates the earth to provide themselves with a hiding place from some undisclosed enemy in outer space (Harner notes that although the beings were almost like DNA, at the time, 1961, he knew nothing of DNA).
The shaman, who had made many excursions into the spirit world, nodded occasionally as Harner related the events that had befallen him, but when he told the old man about the dragon-like beings and their claim that they were the true masters of the earth, the shaman smiled with amusement.
However, this was not the only shock Harner received. He also recounted his experience to two Christian missionaries who lived nearby, and was intrigued when they too seemed to know what he was talking about.
After he finished they told him that some of his descriptions were virtually identical to certain passages in the Book of Revelation, passages that Harner, an atheist, had never read.95
So it seems that the old Conibo shaman perhaps was not the only individual to have traveled the same ground Harner later and more falteringly covered. Some of the visions and “trips to heaven” described by Old and New Testament prophets may also have been shamanic journeys into the inner realm.
Kalweit for one believes the answer is an emphatic yes,
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. However, this awareness does not necessarily result in their becoming more religious.
Like Sri Aurobindo, many NDEers stress the importance of the distinction between religion and spirituality, and assert that it is the latter that has blossomed into greater fullness in their lives, not the former. Indeed, studies show that following their experience, NDEers display an increased openness to ideas outside their own religious background, such as reincarnation and Eastern religions.97
For instance, NDEers often develop a marked fascination for the types of subjects discussed in this book, in particular psychic phenomena and the new physics. One NDEer investigated by Ring, for example, was a driver of heavy equipment who displayed no interest in books or academic pursuits prior to his experience. However, during his NDE he had a vision of total knowledge, and although he was unable to recall the content of the vision after he recovered, various physics’ terms started popping into his head. One morning not long after his experience he blurted out the word quantum.
Later he announced cryptically, “Max Planck - you’ll be hearing about him in the near future,” and as time continued to pass, fragments of equations and mathematical symbols began to surface in his thoughts.
The man’s wife wrote a letter to Ring trying to describe her husband’s transformation:
The man also started developing various psychic abilities after his experience, which is not uncommon among NDEers.
In 1982 Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan and IANDS’s director of research, gave sixty-nine NDEers a questionnaire designed to study this issue, and he found that there was an increase in virtually all of the psychic and psi-related phenomena he assessed.99
Phyllis Atwater, an Idaho housewife who became an NDE researcher following her own transformative NDE, has interviewed dozens of NDEers and has obtained similar findings.
Moody believes that the profound and positive identity changes such individuals undergo is the most compelling evidence that NDEs are actually journeys into some spiritual level of reality.
NDE researchers are not the only individuals who are beginning to accept the existence of this dimension and the spiritual component of the human race.
Nobelist Brian Josephson, himself a longtime meditator, is also convinced that there are subtler levels of reality, levels that can be accessed through meditation and where, quite possibly, one travels after death.102
Even psychoneuroimmunologist Candace Pert, another participant at the symposium, was receptive to the idea.
Is it possible that what Bohm has called the implicate level of reality is actually the realm of the spirit, the source of the spiritual radiance that has transfigured the mystics of all ages?
Bohm himself does not dismiss the idea.
The implicate domain “could equally well be called Idealism, Spirit, Consciousness,” he states with typical matter-of-fact-ness.
Who Are the Beings of Light?
Because most of the above remarks were made by physicists and not theologians, one cannot help but wonder if perhaps the interest in new physics displayed by Ring’s NDEer is an indication of something deeper.
If, as Bohm suggests, physics is beginning to make inroads in areas that were once exclusively the province of the mystic, is it possible that these encroachments have already been anticipated by the beings who inhabit the near-death realm? Is that why NDEers are given an insatiable hunger for such knowledge? Are they, and by proxy the rest of the human race, being prepared for some coming confluence between science and the spiritual?
When Whitton tried to find out the identity of the beings who counseled people in the between-life state, he found the answer elusive.
After hundreds of journeys into the inner realm, and after interviewing dozens of other talented fellow OBEers on the matter, Monroe has also come up empty-handed.
But Monroe, too, confesses ignorance when it comes to the ultimate identity of these nonphysical entities, save that their first order of business appears to be,
Not muck more can be said about the civilizations of these subtle realms, save that individuals who are privileged enough to visit them universally report seeing many vast and celestially beautiful cities there. NDEers, yogic adepts, and ayahuasca-using shamans - all describe these mysterious metropolises with remarkable consistency.
The twelfth-century Sufis were so familiar with them that they even gave several of them names.
Many NDEers also report being shown “schools,” “libraries,” and “institutions of higher learning” during their experiences.110 And one can even find references to great cities devoted to learning and reachable only by journeying into “the hidden depths of the mind” in eleventh-century Tibetan texts.
Edwin Bernbaum, a Sanskrit scholar at the University of California at Berkeley, believes that James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon, in which he created the fictional community of Shangri-La, was actually inspired by one of these Tibetan legends.111
This curious choice of words suggests that perhaps visits to these edifices are actually encounters with something so beyond human conception - perhaps a dynamic living cloud of pure knowledge, or what information becomes, as Pert puts it, after it has been transformed into another realm - that translating it into a hologram of a building or library is the only way the human mind can process it.
We can never know from their appearance alone what they really are. For example, George Russell, a well-known turn-of-the-century Irish seer and an extraordinarily talented OBEer, encountered many “beings of light” during what he called his journeys into the “inner world.”
When asked once during an interview to describe what these beings looked like he stated:
Intriguingly, I have met several other individuals, usually people with more than normal psychic ability, who have also had these dreams (one, a talented Texas clairvoyant named Jim Gordon, was so baffled by the experience that he often asked his nonplussed mother why he had to go to school twice, once during the day with all the other children, and once at night while he slept).
It is relevant to mention here that Monroe and numerous other OBE researchers believe that flying dreams are actually just poorly remembered OBEs. making me wonder if perhaps some of us, at least, are visiting these incorporeal schools even while we are alive. If anyone reading this book has also had such experiences.
I would be very interested in hearing
The answer is, of course, that it is a bit of both, for in a holographic universe all appearances are illusions, hologram-like images constructed by the interaction of the consciousness present, but illusions based, as Pribram says, on something that is there.
Such are the dilemmas one faces in a universe that appears to us in explicate form but always has its source in something ineffable, in the implicate.
When an NDEer meets a woman with whom he has had a love/hate relationship, he sees her as half rose, half cobra, a symbol that still conveys the quintessence of her character; and when travelers in the subtler realms encounter helpful, nonphysical consciousnesses, they see them as luminous and angelic beings.
To speculate further would be presumptuous in that it would not only be tackling a question that thousands of years of human history have failed to resolve, but would also ignore Sri Aurobindo's warning against turning spiritual understandings into religious ones.
As science gathers more evidence, the answer will most assuredly become clearer, but until then, the question of who and what these beings are remains open.
The hereafter is not the only realm in which we can encounter hologramlike apparitions sculptured by our beliefs.
It appears that on occasion we can even have such experiences at our own level of existence. For example, philosopher Michael Grosso believes that miraculous appearances of the Virgin Mary may also be hologram-like projections created by the collective beliefs of the human race.
One “Marian” vision that is especially holographic in flavor is the well-known appearance of the Virgin in Knock, Ireland, in 1879. On that occasion fourteen people saw three glowing and eerily motionless figures consisting of Mary, Joseph, and St John the Evangelist (identified because he closely resembled a statue of the saint in a nearby village) standing in a meadow next to the local church.
These brilliantly luminous figures were so real that when witnesses approached, they could even read the lettering on a book St. John was holding.
But when one of the women present tried to embrace the Virgin, her arms closed on empty air.
Another impressively holographic Marian vision is the equally famous appearance of the Virgin in Zeitoun, Egypt.
The sightings began in 1968 when two Moslem automobile mechanics saw a luminous apparition of Mary standing on the ledge of the central dome of a Coptic church in the poor Cairo suburb.
For the next three years glowing three-dimensional images of Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child appeared weekly over the church, sometimes hovering in midair for as long as six hours.
They were often accompanied by doves “formed of pure light” that soared for great distances over the crowd, but never flapped their wings. Most telling of all, after three years of manifestations and as interest in the phenomenon started to wane, the Zeitoun figures also waned, becoming hazier and hazier until, in their last several appearances, they were little more than clouds of luminous fog.
Nonetheless, during their peak, the figures were seen by literally hundreds of thousands of witnesses and were extensively photographed.
In his thought-provoking book The Final Choice, Grosso says that after stucying the evidence he is convinced that such visions are not appearances of the historical Mary, but are actually psychic holographic projections created by the collective unconscious. Interestingly, not all of the Marian apparitions are silent.
Some, like the manifestations at Fatima and Lourdes, speak, and when they do their message s invariably a warning of impending apocalypse if we mortals do no1, mend our ways. Grosso interprets this as evidence that the human collective unconscious is deeply disturbed by the violent impact modern science has had on human life and on the ecology of the earth. Our collective dreams are, in essence, warning us of the possibility of our own self-destruction.
For instance, Rogo points out that in 1925, while the Coptic church that became the site of tht Zeitoun manifestations was being built, the philanthropist responsible for its construction had a dream in which the Virgin told him she would appear at the church as soon as it was completed. She did not appear at the prescribed time, but the prophecy was well known in the community.
In previous writings I, too, have offered a similar explanation of Marian visions.118
However, as encounters with UFOs become more widespread - especially those involving contact with UFO occupants - and data accumulates, it becomes increasingly apparent to many researchers that these so-called spacecraft are not extraterrestrial in origin.
Second, UFO occupants often do not possess traits one would expect in a truly extraterrestrial life-form; too many of them are described as humanoid beings who breathe our air, display no fear of contracting earthly viruses, are well adapted to the earth’s gravity and the sun’s electromagnetic emissions, display recognizable emotions in their faces, and talk our language - all of which are possible but unlikely traits in truly extraterrestrial visitors.
And often, when they contact individuals their behavior still seems illogical.
For instance, one of the most commonly reported types of contact is that which involve some sort of medical examination. And yet, arguably, a civilization that possesses the technological capability to travel almost incomprehensible tracts of outer space would most assuredly possess the scientific wherewithal to obtain such information without any physical contact at alt or, at the very least, without having to abduct the scores of people who appear to be legitimate victims of this mysterious phenomenon.
In short, their behavior is not at all what one would expect from a physical object, but of something quite different, something with which we have become more than a little familiar in this book.
As astrophysicist Dr. Jacques Vallee, one of the world’s most respected UFO researchers and the model for the character LaCombe in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, stated recently,
As the nonphysical and hologram-like qualities of UFOs become increasingly apparent to researchers, some have concluded that rather than being from other star systems, UFOs are actually visitors from other dimensions, or levels of reality (it is important to note that not all researchers agree with this point of view, and some remain convinced that UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin).
However, this explanation still does not adequately explain many of the other bizarre aspects of the phenomenon, such as why UFOs aren’t making formal contact, why they behave so absurdly, and so on.
For instance, the well-known “interrupted journey” of Betty and Barney Hill, one of the most thoroughly documented UFO abduction cases on record, seems as if it were an actual alien contact in all ways except one: the commander of the UFO was dressed in a Nazi uniform, a fact that does not make sense if the Hills’ abductors were truly visitors from an alien civilization, but it does if the event was psychological in nature and more akin to a dream or hallucination, experiences that often contain obvious symbols and disconcerting flaws in logic.120
As early as 1959, and even before much of this evidence was in, the psychological and archetypal component of the UFO phenomenon inspired Carl Jung to propose that “flying saucers” were actually a product of the collective human unconscious and a kind of modern myth in the making.
In 1969, and as the mythic dimension of
UFO experiences became even clearer, Vallee took the observation a
step further. In his landmark book Passport to Magonia he points out
that, far from being a new phenomenon, UFOs actually appear to be a
very old phenomenon in a new guise and greatly resemble various
folkloric traditions, from descriptions of elves and gnomes in
European countries to medieval accounts of angels to the
supernatural beings described in Native American legends.
When stripped to their underlying archetypes, all such phenomena are part of the same vast, pulsating something, a something that changes its appearance to suit the culture and time period in which it manifests, but that has been with the human race for a long, long time. What is that something?
In Passport to Magonia Vallee provides no substantive answer and says only that it appears to be intelligent, timeless, and to be the phenomenon on which all myths are based.121
In Passport to Magonia Vallee says that we cannot rule out the possibility that they are the expression of some extraordinarily advanced nonhuman intelligence, an intelligence so beyond us that its logic appears to us only as absurdity.
But if this is true, how are we to explain the conclusions of mythology experts from Mircea Eliade to Joseph Campbell that myths are an organic and necessary expression of the human race, as inevitable a human by-product as language and art?
Can we really accept that the collective human psyche is so barren and jejune that it developed myths only as a response to another intelligence?
In an article published in 1976, I proposed that such phenomena are difficult to categorize because we are trying to hammer them into a picture of reality that is fundamentally incorrect. 122
Given that quantum physics has shown us that mind and matter are inextricably linked, I suggested that UFOs and related phenomena are further evidence of this ultimate lack of division between the psychological and physical worlds.
They are indeed a product of the collective human psyche, but they are also quite real. Put another way, they are something the human race has not yet learned to comprehend properly, a phenomenon that is neither subjective nor objective but “omnijective” - a term I coined to refer to this unusual state of existence (I was unaware at the time that Corbin had already coined the term imaginal to describe the same blurred status of reality, only in the context of the mystical experiences of the Sufis).
This point of view has become increasingly prevalent among researchers. In a recent article Ring argues that UFO encounters are imaginal experiences and are similar not only to the confrontations with the real but mind-created world individuals experience during NDEs, but also to the mythic realities shamans encounter during journeys through the subtler dimensions.
They are, in short, further evidence that reality is a multilayered and mind-generated hologram.123
So convinced is Ring of the profound relationship among these at first seemingly disparate phenomena that he has recently obtained a grant to do a comparative study on people who have had UFO encounters and people who have had NDEs.
Rojcewicz acknowledges that this continuum is further evidence of the Bohmian unity of all things and feels that, in tight of the evidence that such phenomena are imaginal/omnijective, it is no longer defensible for folklorists to treat them simply as beliefs.125
As Strieber states, encounters with UFO beings,
In short, there is growing agreement among researchers of this mysterious phenomenon that the imaginal is not confined to the afterlife realm, but has spilled over into the seeming solidity of our sticks-and-stones world.
No longer confined to the visions of shamans, the old gods have sailed their celestial barks right up to the doorstep of the computer generation, only instead of dragon-headed ships their vessels are spaceships, and they have traded in their blue-jay heads for space helmets.
Perhaps we should have anticipated this spillover long ago, this merging of the Land of the Dead with our own realm, for as Orpheus, the poet-musician of Greek mythology, once warned,
As significant as this realization is - that the universe is not objective but omnijective, that just beyond the pale of our own safe neighborhood lies a vast otherness, a numinous landscape (more properly a mindscape) as much a part of our own psyche as it is terra incognita - it still does not shed light on the deepest mystery of all.
As Carl Raschke, a faculty member in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver, notes,
In other words, what is the final identity of these beings?
Again, as with entities encountered in the near-death realm, there are no clear-cut answers. On one end of the spectrum, researchers such as Ring and Grosso lean toward the idea that, despite their impingements in the world of matter, they are more psychic projection than nonhuman intelligence. Grosso, for instance, thinks that, like Marian visions, they are further evidence that the psyche of the human race is in a state of unrest.
As he states,
On the other end of the spectrum are those researchers who maintain that, despite their archetypal characteristics, UFOs are more alien intelligence than psychic projection.
For example, Raschke believes that UFOs are “a holographic materialization from a conjugate dimension of the universe” and that this interpretation “certainly must take precedence over the psychic projection hypothesis, which flounders when one examines thoughtfully the astounding, vivid, complex, and consistent features of the ‘aliens’ and their ‘spaceships’ described by abductees.”129
As for my own feelings, I believe that probably no single explanation can account for all of the varied aspects of the UFO phenomenon.
Given the apparent vastness of the subtler levels of reality, it is easy for me to believe that there are no doubt countless nonphysical species in the higher vibratory realms.
Although the abundance of UFO sightings
may bode against their being extraterrestrial - given the obstacle
posed by the immense interstellar distances separating the Earth
from the other stars in the galaxy - in a holographic universe, a
universe in which there may be an infinity of realities occupying
the same space as our own world, it ceases not only to be a sticking
point, but may in fact be evidence of just how unfathomably abundant
with intelligent life the superhologram is.
The truth is that we simply do not have the information necessary to assess how many nonphysical species are sharing our own space. Although the physical cosmos may turn out to be an ecological Sahara, the spaceless and timeless expanses of the inner cosmos may be as rich with life as the rain forest and the coral reef.
After all, research into NDEs and shamanic experiences has so far taken us only just inside the borders of this cloud-shrouded realm. We do not yet know how large its continents are or how many oceans and mountain ranges it contains.
Just as we convert the beings of light encountered during NDEs into religious historical personages, and clouds of pure information into libraries and institutions of learning, our minds may also be sculpting the outward appearance of the UFO phenomenon.
For example, the medical examinations that are the centerpiece of so many UFO abductions may be only a symbolic representation of what is going on. Rather than probing our physical bodies, these nonphysical intelligences actually may be probing some portion of us for which we currently have no labels, perhaps the subtle anatomy of our energy selves or even our very souls. Such are the problems one faces if the phenomenon is indeed an omnijective manifestation of a nonhuman intelligence.
The well-known manifestation of the Angels of Mons, in which hundreds of World War I British soldiers saw an immense apparition of Saint George and a squadron of angels in the sky while fighting what was at first a losing battle at the front, in Mons, Belgium, also appears to fall into the category of psychic projection.
In other words, when our collective beliefs and emotions become high-pitched enough to create a psychic projection, perhaps what we are really doing is opening a doorway between this world and the next. Perhaps the only time these intelligences can appear and interact with us is when our own potent beliefs create a kind of psychic niche for them.
Seen in this light, UFO entities may very well be archetypes from the collective unconscious of the human race, but we may also be archetypes in their collective unconscious. We may be as much a part of their deep psychic processes as they are of ours. Strieber has also echoed this point and says that the universe of the beings who abducted him and our own are “spinning each other together” in an act of cosmic communion.132
The fact that Carol Dryer was able to communicate with my spleen and tell me that it was upset because I had yelled at it indicates that other organs in our body also possess their own unique forms of mentality. Psychoneuroimmunologists say the same about the cells in our immune system, and according to Bohm and other physicists, even subatomic particles possess this trait. As outlandish as it sounds, some aspects of UFOs and related phenomena may be projections of these collective mentalities.
Certain features of Michael Harner’s encounter with the dragon-like beings certainly suggest that he was confronting a kind of visual manifestation of the intelligence of the DNA molecule. In this same vein Strieber has suggested the possibility that UFO beings are what “the force of evolution looks like when it’s applied to a conscious mind.”133
We must remain open to all of these
possibilities. In a universe that is conscious right down to its
very depths, animals, plants, even matter itself may all be
participating in the creation of these phenomena.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead repeatedly stresses the dreamlike nature of the afterlife realm, and this is also, of course, why the Australian aborigines refer to it as the dreamtime.
Once we accept this notion, that reality at all levels is omnijective and has the same ontological status as a dream, the question becomes, Whose dream is it?
Here again we collide headlong into the bars of our own conceptual limitations, for in a holographic universe this question is meaningless.
We cannot ask if the part is creating the whole, or the whole is creating the part because the part, is the whole. So whether we call the collective consciousness of all things “God,” or simply “the consciousness of all things,” it doesn’t change the situation. The universe is sustained by an act of such stupendous and ineffable creativity that it simply cannot be reduced to such terms.
Again it is a self-reference cosmology.
Or as the Kalahari Bushmen so eloquently put it, “The dream is dreaming itself.”