8 - Traveling in the Superhologram

Access to holographic reality becomes experientially available when one’s consciousness is freed from its dependence on the physical body. So long as one remains tied to the body and its sensory modalities, holographic reality at best can only be an intellectual construct.


When one [is freed from the body] one experiences it directly. That is why mystics speak about their visions with such certitude and conviction, while those who haven’t experienced this realm for themselves are left feeling skeptical or even indifferent.
• Kenneth Ring, Ph.D.

Life at Death

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.

One powerful indication that this is so can be found in out-of-body phenomena, experiences in which an individual’s conscious awareness appears to detach itself from the physical body and travel to some other location. Out-of-body experiences, or OBEs, have been reported throughout history by individuals from all walks of life.


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

Even today studies indicate that OBEs are still widespread. The late Dr. Robert Crookall, a geologist at the University of Aberdeen and an amateur parapsychologist, investigated enough cases to fill nine books on the subject. In the 1960s Celia Green, the director of the Institute of Psychophysical Research in Oxford, polled 115 students at Southampton University and found that 19 percent admitted to having an OBE. When 380 Oxford students were similarly questioned, 34 percent answered in the affirmative.3


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.

The typical OBE is usually spontaneous and occurs most often during sleep, meditation, anesthesia, illness, and instances of traumatic pain (although they can occur under other circumstances as well). Suddenly a person experiences the vivid sensation that his mind has separated from his body. Frequently he finds himself floating over his body and discovers he can travel or fly to other locations. What is it like to find oneself free from the physical and staring down at one’s own body?


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

I know the feeling. I had a spontaneous OBE as a teenager, and after recovering from the shock of finding myself floating over my body and staring down at myself asleep in bed, I had an indescribably exhilarating time flying through walls and soaring over the treetops. During the course of my bodiless journey I even stumbled across a library book a neighbor had lost and was able to tell her where the book was located the next day. I describe this experience in detail in Beyond the Quantum.

It is of no small significance that Gabbard, Twemlow, and Jones also studied the psychological profile of OBEers and found that they were psychologically normal and were on the whole extremely well adjusted. At the 1980 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association they presented their conclusions and told their colleagues that reassurances that OBEs are common occurrences and referring the patient to books on the subject may be “more therapeutic” than psychiatric treatment.


They even hinted that patients might gain more relief by talking to a yogi than to a psychiatrist! 7

Such facts notwithstanding, no amount of statistical findings are as convincing as actual accounts of such experiences. For example, Kimberiy Clark, a hospital social worker in Seattle, Washington, did not take OBEs seriously until she encountered a coronary patient named Maria. Several days after being admitted to the hospital Maria had a cardiac arrest and was quickly revived. Clark visited her later that afternoon expecting to find her anxious over the fact that her heart had stopped. As she had expected, Maria was agitated, but not for the reason she had anticipated.

Maria told Clark that she had experienced something very strange. After her heart had stopped she suddenly found herself looking down from the ceiling and watching the doctors and the nurses working on her. Then something over the emergency room driveway distracted her and as soon as she “thought herself there, she was there.


Next Maria “thought her way” up to the third floor of the building and found herself “eyeball to shoelace” with a tennis shoe. It was an old shoe and she noticed that the little toe had worn a hole through the fabric.


She also noticed several other details, such as the fact that the lace was stuck under the heel. After Maria finished her account she begged Clark to please go to the ledge and see if there was a shoe there so that she could confirm whether her experience was real or not

Skeptical but intrigued, Clark went outside and looked up at the ledge, but saw nothing. She went up to the third floor and began going in and out of patients’ rooms looking through windows so narrow she had to press her face against the glass just to see the ledge at all. Finally, she found a room where she pressed her face against the glass and looked down and saw the tennis shoe. Still, from her vantage point she could not tell if the little toe had worn a place in the shoe or if any of the other details Maria had described were correct.


It wasn’t until she retrieved the shoe that she confirmed Maria’s various observations.

“The only way she would have had such a perspective was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe,” states Clark, who has since become a believer in OBEs. “It was very concrete evidence for me.”8

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.

Of the nonexperiencers, 20 made major mistakes when they described their resuscitations, 3 gave correct but general descriptions, and 2 had no idea at all what had taken place.


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.


There appears,

“to be no plausible explanation for the accuracy of these observations involving the usual physical senses,” he says- “The out-of-body hypothesis simply seems to fit best with the data at hand.”9

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.

“I had two options,” Monroe recalls. “One was sedation for the rest of my life; the other was to learn something about this state so I could control it.”10

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.

OBEs have also been documented in the lab. In one experiment, parapsychologist Charles Tart was able to get a skilled OBEer he identifies only as Miss Z to identify correctly a five-digit number written on a piece of paper that could only be reached if she were floating in the out-of-body state.13


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



OBEs as a Holographic Phenomenon

Considered as a whole the evidence seems unequivocal.


Although we are taught that we “think” with our brains, this is not always true. Under the right circumstances our consciousness - the thinking, perceiving part of us - can detach from the physical body and exist just about anywhere it wants to. Our current scientific understanding cannot account for this phenomenon, but it becomes much more tractable in terms of the holographic idea.

Remember that in a holographic universe, location is itself an illusion. Just as an image of an apple has no specific location on a piece of holographic film, in a universe that is organized holographically things and objects also possess no definite location; everything is ultimately nonlocal, including consciousness. Thus, although our consciousness appears to be localized in our heads, under certain conditions it can just as easily appear to be localized in the upper corner of the room, hovering over a grassy lawn, or floating eyeball-to-shoelace with a tennis shoe on the third-floor ledge of a building.

If the idea of a nonlocal consciousness seems difficult to grasp, a useful analogy can once again be found in dreaming. Imagine that you are dreaming you are attending a crowded art exhibit. As you wander among the people and gaze at the artworks, your consciousness appears to be localized in the head of the person you are in the dream.


But where is your consciousness really?


A quick analysis will reveal that it is actually in everything in the dream, in the other people attending the exhibit, in the artworks, even in the very space of the dream. In a dream, location is also an illusion because everything -  people, objects, space, consciousness, and so on - is unfolding out of the deeper and more fundamental reality of the dreamer.

Another strikingly holographic feature of the OBE is the plasticity of the form a person assumes once they are out of the body. After detaching from the physical, OBEers sometimes find themselves in a ghostlike body that is an exact replica of their biological body. This caused some researchers in the past to postulate that human beings possess a “phantom double” not unlike the doppelganger of literature.

However, recent findings have exposed problems with this assumption.


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.

There is even evidence that the form a person assumes during an OBE is a direct consequence of their beliefs and expectations. For example, in his 1961 book The Mystical Life, mathematician J. H. M. Whiteman revealed that he experienced at least two OBEs a month during most of his adult life and recorded over two thousand such incidents. He also disclosed that he always felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body, and during separation this sometimes resulted in his finding himself in female form.


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

Monroe agrees and asserts that it is our “thought habits” that create our OB forms. Because we are so habituated to being in a body, we have a tendency to reproduce the same form in the OB state.


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.

“I suspect that one may modify the Second Body into whatever form is desired,” says Monroe.15

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.

The form we assume while in the OB state is not the only thing that displays this holographic plasticity. Despite the accuracy of the observations made by talented OB travelers during their disembodied jaunts, researchers have long been troubled by some of the glaring inaccuracies that crop up as well. For instance, the title of the lost library book I stumbled across during my own OBE looked bright green while I was in a disembodied state.


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.

In terms of the holographic idea, one explanation may be that such OB travelers have not yet fully developed the ability to convert the frequencies they perceive while in a disembodied state into a completely accurate holographic representation of consensus reality. In other words, since OBEers appear to be relying on a completely new set of senses, these senses may still be wobbly and not yet proficient at the art of converting the frequency domain into a seemingly objective construct of reality.

These nonphysica! senses are further hampered by the constraints our own self-limiting beliefs place upon them.


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

In short, there is evidence that we too are not limited to seeing only through our physical eyes. This is, of course, the message inherent in my father’s friend Tom’s ability to read the inscription on a watch even when it was shielded by his daughter’s stomach, and also in the remote-viewing phenomenon.


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.

Another holographic aspect of OBEs is the blurring of the division between past and future that sometimes occurs during such experiences. For example, Osis and Mitchell discovered that when Dr. Alex Tanous, a well-known psychic and talented OB traveler from Maine, flew in and attempted to describe the test objects they placed on a table, he had a tendency to describe items that were placed there days later.’21


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.

That Tanous’s perception of the room was a holographic phenomenon and not just a precognitive vision that took place solely in his head ,s underscored by another fact. The day of his schedule to produce an OBE Osis asked New York psychic Christine Whiting to hold vigil in the room and try to describe any projector she might “see” visiting there.


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

Harary has also made occasional OB journeys into the future and agrees that the experiences are qualitatively different from other pre-cognitive experiences.

“OBEs to future time and space differ from regular precognitive dreams in that I am definitely ‘out’ and moving through a black, dark area that ends at some lighted future scene,” he states.

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

There are also cases on record of OB journeys into the past. The Swedish playwright August Strindberg, himself a frequent OB traveler, describes one in his book Legends. The occurrence took place while Strindberg was sitting in a wine shop, trying to persuade a young friend not to give up his military career. To bolster his argument Strindberg brought up a past incident involving both of them that had taken place one evening in a tavern.


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.

Indeed, when one reads the voluminous literature now available on the OB phenomenon, one is repeatedly struck at the similarities between OB travelers’ descriptions of their experiences and characteristics we have now come to associate with a holographic universe. In addition to describing the OB state as a place where time and space Bo longer properly exist, where thought can be transformed into hologram-like forms, and where consciousness is ultimately a pattern of vibrations, or frequencies, Monroe notes that perception during OBEs seems based less on “a reflection of light waves” and more on “an impression of radiation,” an observation that suggests once again that when one enters the OB realm one begins to enter Pribram’s frequency domain.25


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

As holographic as the OBE is, it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to more direct experience of the frequency aspects of reality. Although OBEs are only experienced by a segment of the human race, there is another circumstance under which we all come into closer contact with the frequency domain. That is when we journey to that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.


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.



The Near-Death Experience

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.

Like OBEs, NDEs appear to be a universal phenomenon. They are described at length in both the eighth-century Tibetan Book of the Dead and the 2,500-year-oid Egyptian Book of the Dead.


In Book X of The Republic Plato gives a detailed account of a Greek soldier named Er, who came alive just seconds before his funeral pyre was to be lit and said that he had left his body and went through a “passageway” to the land of the dead.


The Venerable Bede gives a similar account in his eighth-century work A History of the English Church and People, and, in fact, in her recent book Otherworld Journeys Carol Zaleski, a lecturer on the study of religion at Harvard, points out that medieval literature is filled with accounts of NDEs.

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

One of the most interesting aspects of the ND phenomenon is the consistency one finds from experience to experience.


A summary of a typical NDE is as follows:

A man is dying and suddenly finds himself floating above his body and watching what is going on. Within moments he travels at great speed through a darkness or a tunnel.


He enters a realm of dazzling light and is warmly met by recently deceased friends and relatives. Frequently he hears indescribably beautiful music and sees sights - rolling meadows, flower-filled valleys, and sparkling streams - more lovely than anything he has seen on earth. In this light-filled world he feels no pain or fear and is pervaded with an overwhelming feeling of joy, love, and peace.


He meets a “being (and or beings) of light” who emanates a feeling of enormous compassion, and is prompted by the being(s) to experience a “life review,” a panoramic replay of his life. He becomes so enraptured by his experience of this greater reality that he desires nothing more than to stay.


However, the being tells him that it is not his time yet and persuades him to return to his earthly life and reenter his physical body.

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.

Nevertheless, there is an astonishing degree of agreement among the NDEs reported by various cultures throughout history. For instance, the life review, a feature that crops up again and again in modem-day NDEs, is also described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, in Plato’s account of what Er experienced during his sojourn in the hereafter, and in the 2,000-year-old yogic writings of the Indian sage Patanjali.


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

Although the orthodox view of NDEs is that they are just hallucinations, there is substantial evidence that this is not the case. As with OBEs, when NDEers are out-of-body, they are able to report details they have no normal sensory means of knowing. For example, Moody reports a case in which a woman left her body during surgery, floated into the waiting room, and saw that her daughter was wearing mismatched plaids. As it turned out, the maid had dressed the little girl so hastily she had not noticed the error and was astounded when the mother, who did not physically see the little girl that day, commented on the fact.28


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

And these are not even the most extraordinary examples of sensory awareness in the ND out-of-body state. NDE researchers have found that even patients who are blind, and have had no light perception for years, can see and accurately describe what is going on around them when they have left their bodies during an NDE.


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

Most staggering of all are those NDEs and deathbed visions involving two or more individuals. In one case, as a female NDEer found herself moving through the tunnel and approaching the realm of light, she saw a friend of hers coming back! As they passed, the friend telepathically communicated to her that he had died, but was being “sent back.” The woman, too, was eventually “sent back” and after she recovered she discovered that her friend had suffered a cardiac arrest at approximately the same time of her own experience.31

There are numerous other cases on record in which dying individuals knew who was waiting for them in the world beyond before news of the person’s death arrived through normal channels.32

And if there is still any doubt, yet another argument against the idea that NDEs are hallucinations is their occurrence in patients who have flat EEGs. Under normal circumstances whenever a person talks, thinks, imagines, dreams, or does just about anything else, their EEG registers an enormous amount of activity. Even hallucinations measure on the EEG. But there are many eases in which people with flat EEGs have had NDEs. Had their NDEs been simple hallucinations, they would have registered on their EEGs.

In brief, when all these facts are considered together - the widespread nature of the NDE, the absence of demographic characteristics, the universality of the core experience, the ability of NDEers to see and know things they have no normal sensory means of seeing and knowing, and the occurrence of NDEs in patients who have flat EEGs - the conclusion seems inescapable: People who have NDEs are not suffering from hallucinations or delusional fantasies, but are actually making visits to an entirely different level of reality.

This is also the conclusion reached by many NDE researchers. One such researcher is Dr. Melvin Morse, a pediatrician in Seattle, Washington. Morse first became interested in NDEs after treating a seven-year-old drowning victim. By the time the little girl was resuscitated she was profoundly comatose, had fixed and dilated pupils, no muscle reflexes, and no cornea) response. In medical terms this gave her a Glascow Coma Score of three, indicating that she was in a coma so deep she had almost no chance of ever recovering.


Despite these odds, she made a full recovery and when Morse looked in on her for the first time after she regained consciousness she recognized him and said that she had watched him working on her comatose body. When Morse questioned her further she explained that she had left her body and passed through a tunnel into heaven where she had met “the Heavenly Father.”


The Heavenly Father told her she was not really meant to be there yet and asked if she wanted to stay or go back. At first she said she wanted to stay, but when the Heavenly Father pointed out that that decision meant she would not be seeing her mother again, she changed her mind and returned to her body.

Morse was skeptical but fascinated and from that point on set out to learn everything he could about NDEs. At the time, he worked for an air transport service in Idaho that carried patients to the hospital, and this afforded him the opportunity to talk with scores of resuscitated children. Over a ten-year period he interviewed every child survivor of cardiac arrest at the hospital, and over and over they told him the same thing. After going unconscious they found themselves outside their bodies, watched the doctors working on them, passed through a tunnel, and were comforted by luminous beings.

Morse continued to be skeptical, and in his increasingly desperate search for some logical explanation he read everything he could find on the side effects of the drugs his patients were taking, and explored various psychological explanations, but nothing seemed to fit.

“Then one day I read a long article in a medical journal that tried to explain NDEs as being various tricks of the brain,” says Morse.


“By then I had studied NDEs extensively and none of the explanations that this researcher listed made sense. It was finally clear to me that he had missed the most obvious explanation of all - NDEs are real. He had missed the possibility that the soul really does travel.”33

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.

“I have talked to almost every NDE researcher in the world about his or her work. I know that most of them believe in their hearts that NDEs are a glimpse of life after life. But as scientists and people of medicine, they still haven’t come up with ‘scientific proof that a part of us goes on living after our physical being is dead. This lack of proof keeps them from going public with their true feelings.”34

As a result of his 1981 survey, even George Gallup, Jr., the president of the Gallup Poll, agrees:

“A growing number of researchers have been gathering and evaluating the accounts of those who have had strange near-death encounters. And the preliminary results have been highly suggestive of some sort of encounter with an extradimensional realm of reality. Our own extensive survey is the latest in these studies and is also uncovering some trends that point toward a super parallel universe of some sort.”35


A Holographic Explanation of the Near-Death Experience

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.

This last reason, however, may not be the problem it seems. Several NDE researchers have pointed out that the holographic model offers us a way to understand these experiences. One such researcher is Dr. Kenneth Ring, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut and one of the first NDE researchers to use statistical analysis and standardized interviewing techniques to study the phenomenon. In his 1980 book Life at Death, Ring spends considerable time arguing in favor of a holographic explanation of the NDE.


Put bluntly, Ring believes that NDEs are also ventures into the more frequency-like aspects of reality.

Ring bases his conclusion on the numerous suggestively holographic aspects of the NDE. One is the tendency of experiences to describe the world beyond as a realm composed of “light,” “higher vibrations,” or “frequencies.”


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.

Another feature Ring finds undeniably holographic is NDEers’ descriptions of time and space in the afterlife realm.


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.

“I found myself in a space, in a period of time, I would say, where all space and time was negated,” says one NDEer clumsily.36


“It has to be out of time and space. It must be, because ... it can’t be put into a time thing,” says another.37

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.

If the near-death realm is even more frequency-like than our own level of reality, why does it appear to have any structure at all?


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,

“I believe that this is a realm that is created by interacting thought structures. These structures or ‘thought-forms’ combine to form patterns, just as interference waves form patterns on a holographic plate. And just as the holographic image appears to be fully real when illuminated by a laser beam, so the images produced by interacting thought-forms appear to be real.”38

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.

“I think we’ve come to the point in NDE research which is difficult to make a distinction between fought and light In the near-death experience thought seems to be light,” she observes.39


Heaven as Hologram

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

That our innermost feelings and desires are responsible for creating the form we assume in the afterlife dimension is evident in the experiences of other NDEers. People who are confined in wheelchairs in their physical existence find themselves in healthy bodies that can run and dance. Amputees invariably have their limbs back. The elderly often inhabit youthful bodies, and even stranger, children frequently see themselves as adults, a fact that may reflect every child's fantasy to be a grown-up, or more profoundly, may be a symbolic indication that in our souls some of us are much older than we realize.

These hologramlike bodies can be remarkably detailed. In the incident involving the man who became embarrassed at his own nakedness, for example, the clothing he materialized for himself was so meticulously wrought that he could even make out the seams in the material! 41


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

Some of Whitton’s research is also relevant to this issue. Amazingly, when Whitton hypnotized patients and regressed them to the between-life state, they too reported all the classic features of the NDE, passage through a tunnel, encounters with deceased relatives and/or “guides,” entrance into a splendorous light-filled realm in which time and space no longer existed, encounters with luminous beings, and a life review.


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.

Like Ring, after studying the testimony of his subjects Whitton concluded that the shapes and structures one perceives in the afterlife dimension are thought-forms created by the mind.

“Rene Descartes’ famous dictum, ‘I think, therefore I am,’ is never more pertinent than in the between-life state,” says Whitton. “There is no experience of existence without thought.”43

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.

“One man described it by saying that if he stopped thinking he was merely a cloud in an endless cloud, undifferentiated,” he observes. “But as soon as he started to think, he became himself"44 (a state of affairs that is oddly reminiscent of the subjects in Tart’s mutual hypnosis experiment who discovered they didn’t have hands unless they thought them into existence).

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

What do NDEers look like when they have not constructed a hologram like body for themselves?


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.

“I realized that each person and thing has its own musical tone range as well as its own color range,” says an Arizona housewife who had an NDE during childbirth, “If you can imagine yourself effortlessly moving in and out among prismatic rays of light and hearing each person’s musical notes join and harmonize with your own when you touch or pass them, you would have some idea of the unseen world.”

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.

“He experienced three-hundred-sixty-degree vision while running away from a German machine-gun nest,” says Sullivan. “Not only could he see ahead as he ran, but he could see the gunners trying to draw a bead on him from behind.” 49



Instantaneous Knowledge

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

The reason for this characterization is obvious as soon as one begins to read accounts of the life review.


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.

“It’s like climbing right inside a movie of your life,” says one NDEer.


“Every moment from every year of your life is played back in complete sensory detail. Total, total recall. And it all happens in an instant”51


“The whole thing was really odd. I was there; I was actually seeing these flashbacks; I was actually walking through them, and it was so fast Yet, it was slow enough that I could take it all in,” says another.52

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.

Whitton has uncovered evidence that thoughtless acts are not the only things that cause individuals remorse during the life review. Under hypnosis his subjects reported that failed dreams and aspirations - things they had hoped to accomplish during their life but had not - also caused them pangs of sadness-Thoughts, too, are replayed with exacting fidelity during the life review.


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,

“Not even your thoughts are lost . . . Every thought was there.”53

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

In fact, the life review bares a marked resemblance to the afterlife judgment scenes described in the sacred texts of many of the world’s great religions, from the Egyptian to the Judeo-Christian, but with one crucial difference.


Like Whitton’s subjects, NDEers universally report that they are never judged by the beings of light, but feel only love and acceptance in their presence. The only judgment that ever takes place is self-judgment and arises solely out of the NDEer’s own feelings of guilt and repentance. Occasionally the beings do assert themselves, but instead of behaving in an authoritarian manner, they act as guides and counselors whose only purpose is to teach.

This total lack of cosmic judgment and/or any divine system of punishment and reward has been and continues to be one of the most controversial aspects of the NDE among religious groups, but it is one of the most oft reported features of the experience. What is the explanation? Moody believes it is as simple as it is polemic. We live in a universe that is far more benevolent than we realize.

That is not to say that anything goes during the life review. Like Whitton’s hypnotic subjects, after arriving in the realm of light NDEers appear to enter a state of heightened or meta-consciousness awareness and become lucidly honest in their self-reflections.

It also does not mean that the beings of light prescribe no values. In NDE after NDE they stress two things. One is the importance of love. Over and over they repeat this message, that we must learn to replace anger with love, learn to love more, learn to forgive and love everyone unconditionally, and learn that we in turn are loved. This appears to be the only moral criterion the beings use. Even sexual activity ceases to possess the moral stigma we humans are so fond of attaching to it.


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?

That is why we have been placed here on the earth, say the beings, to learn that love is the key. They acknowledge that it is a difficult undertaking, but intimate that it is crucial to both our biological and spiritual existence in ways that we have perhaps not even begun to fathom. Even children return from the near-death realm with this message firmly impressed in their thoughts.


States one little boy who after being hit by a car was guided into the world beyond by two people in “very white” robes:

“What I learned there is that the most important thing is loving while you are alive.”56

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,

“learning is a continuous process and goes on even after death” and “knowledge is one of the few things you will be able to take with you after you have died.”

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,

“You can think of a question... and immediately know the answer to it. As simple as that. And it can be any question whatsoever. It can be on a subject that you don’t know anything about, that you are not in the proper position even to understand and the light will give you the instantaneous correct answer and make you understand it.”58

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

Indeed, anyone who possesses any appreciable psychic ability is familiar with this experience, for this is the form in which one receives psychic information as well.


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.

Receiving information in this manner is similar to the way one becomes aware of information while dreaming. Virtually everyone has had a dream in which they find themselves in a situation and suddenly know all kinds of things about it without being told. For instance, you might dream you are at a party and as soon as you are there you know who it is being given for and why. Similarly, everyone has had a detailed idea or inspiration dawn upon them in a flash. Such experiences are lesser versions of the thought ball effect.

Interestingly, because these bursts of psychic information arrive in nonlinear chunks, it sometimes takes me several moments to translate them into words. Like the psychological gestalts experienced by individuals during transpersonal experiences, they are holographic in the sense that they are instantaneous “wholes” our time-oriented minds must struggle with for a moment in order to unravel and convert into a serial arrangement of parts.

What form does the knowledge contained in the thought balls experienced during NDEs take? According to NDEers all forms of communication are used, sounds, moving hologram-like images, even telepathy - a fact that Ring believes demonstrates once again that the hereafter is “a world of existence where thought is king.”62

The thoughtful reader may immediately wonder why the quest for learning is so important during life if we have access to all knowledge after we die?


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.



Life Plans and Parallel Time Tracks

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

That our future is at least partially sketched out is also evident in a phenomenon Ring calls the “personal flash-forward.” On occasion, during the vision of knowledge, NDEers are shown glimpses of their own future. In one particularly striking case a child NDEer was told various specifics about his future, including the fact that he would be married at age twenty-eight and would have two children. He was even shown his adult self and his future children sitting in a room of the house he would eventually be living in, and as he gazed at the room he noticed something very strange on the wall, something that his mind could not grasp.


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

In another equally astonishing personal flash-forward a female NDEer was shown a photograph of Moody, told his full name, and told that when the time was right she would tell him about her experience. The year was 1971 and Moody had not yet published Life after Life, so his name and picture meant nothing to the woman. However, the time became “right” four years later when Moody and his family unwittingly moved to the very street on which the woman lived.


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

Some NDEs even support Loye’s proposal that several holographic parallel universes, or time tracks, exist. On occasion NDEers are shown personal flash-forwards and told that the future they have witnessed will come to pass only if they continue on their current path. In one unique instance an NTDEer was shown a completely different history of the earth, a history that would have developed if “certain events” had not taken place around the time of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras three thousand years ago.


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.

Even NDEers who do not experience direct evidence of the role they play in their own destiny often come back with a firm understanding of the holographic interconnectedness of all things.


As a sixty-two-year-old businessman who had an NDE during a cardiac arrest puts it,

“One thing I learned was that we are all part of one big, living universe. If we think we can hurt another person or another living thing without hurting ourselves we are sadly mistaken. I look at a forest or a flower or a bird now, and say, ‘That is me, part of me.’ We are connected with all things and if we send love along those connections, then we are happy.”69



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

Whitton’s subject is not alone in his experience. Hazrat Inayat Khan said that when he entered a mystical state and traveled to “divine realities,” the beings he encountered also occasionally appeared in half-human, half-animal forms. Like Whitton’s subject, Khan discerned that these transfigurations were symbolic, and when a being appeared as part animal it was because the animal symbolized some quality the being possessed.


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 animal heads.72

The propensity near-death reality has for molding itself into hologram-like shapes that mirror the thoughts, desires, and symbols that populate our minds explains why Westerners tend to perceive the beings of light as Christian religious figures, why Indians perceive them as Hindu saints and deities, and so on.


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.

At this juncture an important point needs to be made. As startling and foreign as the near-death realm seems, the evidence presented in this book reveals that our own level of existence may not be all that different. As we have seen, we too can access all information, it is just a little more difficult for us. We too can occasionally have personal flash-forwards and come face-to-face with the phantasmal nature of time and space. And we too can sculpt and reshape our bodies, and sometimes even our reality, according to our beliefs, it just takes us a little more time and effort.


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.

In fact, it appears that this reality and the next are different in degree, but not in kind. Both are hologram-like constructs, realities that are established, as Jahn and Dunne put it, only by the interaction of consciousness with its environment.


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.


Information about the Near-Death Realm from Other Sources

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.

Throughout all of this he also meditated regularly, and when he reached middle age, developed the ability to enter deep trances during which he left his body and visited what appeared to him to be heaven and conversed with “angels” and “spirits.”


That Swedenborg was experiencing something profound during these journeys, there can be no doubt. He became so famous for this ability that the queen of Sweden asked him to find out why her deceased brother had neglected to respond to a letter she had sent him before his death. Swedenborg promised to consult the deceased and the next day returned with a message which the queen confessed contained information only she and her dead brother knew.


Swedenborg performed this service several times for various individuals who sought his help, and on another occasion told a widow where to find a secret compartment in her deceased husband’s desk in which she found some desperately needed documents. So well known was this latter incident that it inspired the German philosopher Immanuel Kant to write an entire book on Swedenborg entitled Dreams of a Spirit-Seer.

But the most amazing thing about Swedenborg’s accounts of the afterlife realm is how closely they mirror the descriptions offered by modern-day NDEers. For example, Swedenborg talks about passing through a dark tunnel, being met by welcoming spirits, landscapes more beautiful than any on earth and one where time and space no longer exist, a dazzling light that emitted a feeling of love, appearing before beings of light, and being enveloped by an all-encompassing peace and serenity.74


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 also refers to the holographic thought balls the angels use to communicate and says that they are no different from the portrayals he could see in the “wave-substance” that surrounded a person. Like most NDEers he describes these telepathic bursts of knowledge as a picture language so dense with information that each image contains a thousand ideas. A communicated series of these portrayals can also be quite lengthy and “last up to several hours, in such a sequential arrangement that one can only marvel.”76

But even here Swedenborg added a fascinating twist. In addition to using portrayals, angels also employ a speech that contains concepts that are beyond human understanding. In fact, the main reason they use portrayals is because it is the only way they can make even a pale version of their thoughts and ideas comprehensible to human beings.77


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.

In fact, several Swedenborg scholars have commented on the many parallels between some of Swedenborg’s concepts and Bohm and Pribram’s theory. One such scholar is Dr. George F. Dole, a professor of theology at the Swedenborg School of Religion in Newton, Massachusetts.


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.

“If we put these images together, the resemblance to the hologram is striking,” says Dole.


“We are constituted by the intersection of two flows - one direct, from the divine, and one indirect, from the divine via our environment. We can view ourselves as interference patterns, because the inflow is a wave phenomenon, and we are where the waves meet.”81

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

Swedenborg filled almost twenty volumes with his experiences, and on his deathbed was asked if there was anything he wanted to recant.


He earnestly replied:

“Everything that I have written is as true as you now behold me. I might have said much more had it been permitted to me. After death you will see all, and then we shall have much to say to each other on the subject.”83



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.”

They held that it is a world created solely out of the subtle matter of alarn almithal, or thought.


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.

“The reason I absolutely had to find another expression was that, for a good many years, my profession required me to interpret Arabic and Persian texts, whose meaning I would undoubtedly have betrayed had I simply contented myself with the term imaginary,” stated Corbin.84

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 one’s destiny.

In a notion that parallels Bohm’s implicate and explicate orders, the Sufis believed that, despite its phantasmal qualities, the afterlife realm is the generative matrix that gives birth to the entire physical universe. All things in physical reality arise from this spiritual reality, said the Sufis.


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

This realization is, of course, just another reference to the nonlocal and holographic qualities of reality. Each of us contains the whole of heaven. More than that, each of us contains the location of heaven. Or as the Sufis put it, instead of having to search for spiritual reality “in the where,” the “where” is in us.


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

Admittedly this idea is not new. It is the same sentiment expressed in the statement “the kingdom of heaven is within.”


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.

The idea that the afterlife realm lies deep in the nonlocal expanse of the psyche has been allude’d to by some NDEers. As one seven-year-old boy put it,

“Death is like walking into your mind.”87

Bohm offers a similarly nonlocal view of what happens during our transition from this life to the next:

“At the present, our whole thought process is telling us that we have to keep our attention here. You can’t cross the street, for example, if you don’t. But consciousness is always in the unlimited depth which is beyond space and time, in the subtler levels of the implicate order. Therefore, if you went deeply enough into the actual present, then maybe there’s no difference between this moment and the next.


The idea would be that in the death experience you would get into that. Contact with eternity is in the present moment, but it is mediated by thought. It is a matter of attention.”88


Intelligent and Coordinated Images of Light

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.”

Individuals who live in this wondrous realm can materialize any body they want and can “see” with any area of their body they wish. They can also materialize any fruit or other food they desire, although they “are almost freed from any necessity of eating” and “feast only on the ambrosia of eternally new knowledge.”

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 all.”

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



More References to Light

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.

Like Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo was active in the nationalist movement in India and spent time in prison for sedition. However, despite all his intellectual and humanitarian passion, he remained an atheist until one day when he saw a wandering yogi instantaneously heal his brother of a life-threatening illness. From that point on Sri Aurobindo devoted his life to the yogic disciplines and, like Sri Yukteswar, through meditation he eventually learned to become, in his own words, “an explorer of the planes of consciousness.”

It was not an easy task for Sri Aurobindo, and one of the most intractable obstacles he had to overcome to accomplish his goal was to learn how to silence the endless chatter of words and thoughts that flow unceasingly through the normal human mind. Anyone who has ever tried to empty his or her mind of all thought for even a moment or two knows how daunting an undertaking this is.


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.”

It took Sri Aurobindo years to learn how to silence his mind and travel inward, but once he succeeded he discovered the same vast territory encountered by all of the other Marco Polos of the spirit that we have looked at - a realm beyond space and time, composed of a “multicolored infinity of vibrations” and peopled by nonphysical beings so far in advance of human consciousness that they make us look like children.


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.”

According to Sri Aurobindo, in their truest form these beings appear as “pure vibration.” In his two-volume work, On Yoga, he even likens their ability to appear as either a form or a vibration, to the wave-particle duality discovered by “modern science.” Sri Aurobindo also noted that in this luminous realm one is no longer restricted to taking in information in a “point-by-point” manner, but can absorb it “in great masses,” and in a single glance perceive “large extensions of space and time.”

In fact, quite a number of Sri Aurobindo’s assertions are indistinguishable from many of Bohm’s and Pribram’s conclusions. He said that most human beings possess a “mental screen” that keeps us from seeing beyond “the veil of matter,” but when one learns to peer beyond this veil one finds that everything is comprised of “different intensities of luminous vibrations.”


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.

Most Bohmian of all are Sri Aurobindo’s remarks about wholeness and fragmentation. According to Sri Aurobindo, one of the most important things one learns in “the great and luminous kingdoms of the Spirit,” is that all separateness is an illusion, and all things are ultimately interconnected and whole. Again and again in his writings he stressed this fact, and held that it was only as one descended from the higher vibrational levels of reality to the lower that a “progressive law of fragmentation” took over.


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.

Just as Bohm believes that it is not possible for disorder to exist in a universe that is ultimately unbroken and whole, Sri Aurobindo believed the same was true of consciousness. If a single point of the universe were totally unconscious, the whole universe would be totally unconscious, he said, and if we perceive a pebble at the side of the road or a grain of sand under our fingernail to be lifeless and dead, our perception is again illusory and brought on only by our somnambulistic inurement with fragmentation.

Like Bohm, Sri Aurobindo’s epiphanic understanding of wholeness also made him aware of the ultimate relativity of all truths and the arbitrariness of trying to divide the seamless holo-movement up into “things.”


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:

We must not only cut asunder the snare of the mind and the senses, but flee also from the snare of the thinker, the snare of the theologian and the church-builder, the meshes of the Word and the bondage of the Idea.


All these are within us waiting to wall in the spirit with forms; but we must always go beyond, always renounce the lesser for the greater, the finite for the Infinite; we must be prepared to proceed from illumination to illumination, from experience to experience, from soul-state to soul-state.


Nor must we attach ourselves even to the truths we hold most securely, for they are but forms and expressions of the Ineffable who refuses to limit itself to any form or expression.91

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



Survival in Infinity

The picture of reality reported by NDEers is remarkably self-consistent and is corroborated by the testimony of many of the world’s most talented mystics as well.


Even more astonishing is that as breathtaking and foreign as these subtler levels of reality are to those of us who reside in the world’s more “advanced” cultures, they are mundane and familiar territories to so-called primitive peoples.

For example, Dr. E. Nandisvara Nayake Thero, an anthropologist who has lived with and studied a community of aborigines in Australia, points out that the aboriginal concept of the “dreamtime,” a realm that Australian shamans visit by entering a profound trance, is almost identical to the afterlife planes of existence described in Western sources. It is the realm where human spirits go after death, and once there a shaman can converse with the dead and instantly access all knowledge.


It is also a dimension in which time, space, and the other boundaries of earthly life cease to exist and one must learn to deal with infinity. Because of this, Australian shamans often refer to the afterlife as “survival in infinity.”93

Holger Kaiweit, a German ethnopsychologist with degrees in both psychology and cultural anthropology, goes Thero one better.


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.

However, unlike Western NDEers for whom such experiences are disorientingly new, these shamanic explorers appear to have a far vaster knowledge of the geography of these subtler realms and are often able to return to them again and again.


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

That these inner regions have been well traveled by shamanic peoples is evidenced by an experience anthropologist Michael Harner had among the Conibo Indians of the Peruvian Amazon. In 1960 the American Museum of Natural History sent Harner on a year-long expedition to study the Conibo, and while there he asked the Amazonian natives to tell him about their religious beliefs. They told him that if he really wished to learn, he had to take a shamanic sacred drink made from a hallucinogenic plant known as ayakuasca, the “soul vine.”


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.

But the most dramatic experience he had during his spirit journey was an encounter with a group of winged, dragonlike beings that emerged from his spine. After they had crawled out of his body, they “projected” a visual scene in front of him in which they showed him what they said was the “true” history of the earth.


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).

After this concatenation of visions was over, Harner sought out a blind Conibo shaman noted for his paranormal talents to talk to him about the experience.


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.

“Oh, they're always saying that. But they are only the Masters of Outer Darkness,” he corrected.

“I was stunned,” says Harner. “What I had experienced was already familiar to this barefoot, blind shaman. Known to him from his own explorations of the same hidden world into which I had ventured.”

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.

Is it possible that what we have been viewing as quaint folklore and charming but naive mythology are actually sophisticated accounts of the cartography of the subtler levels of reality?


Kalweit for one believes the answer is an emphatic yes,

“In light of the revolutionary findings of recent research into the nature of dying and death, we can no longer look upon tribal religions and their ideas about the World of the Dead as limited conceptions,” he says, “[Rather] the shaman should be considered as a most up-to-date and knowledgeable psychologist.” 96


An Undeniable Spiritual Radiance

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

This widening of interests frequently extends to other areas as well.


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.

Neither he nor his wife knew what the word quantum meant, or who Max Planck (widely viewed as the founding father of quantum physics) was until the man went to a library and looked the words up. But after discovering that he was not talking gibberish, he started to read voraciously, not only books on physics, but also on parapsychology, metaphysics, and higher consciousness; and he even enrolled in college as a physics major.


The man’s wife wrote a letter to Ring trying to describe her husband’s transformation:

Many times he says a word he has never heard before in our reality - it might be a foreign word of a different language - but learns ... it in relationship to the “light” theory. ... He talks about things faster than the speed of light and it’s hard for me to understand -  When [he] picks up a book on physics he already knows the answer and seems to feel more...98

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.

“Telepathy and healing gifts are common,” she states. “So is ‘remembering’ the future. Time and space stop, and you live in a future sequence in detail. Then, when the event occurs, you recognize it.”100

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.


Ring agrees.

“[At the core of the NDE] we find an absolute and undeniable spiritual radiance,” he says. “This spiritual core is so awesome and overwhelming that the person is at once and forever thrust into an entirely new mode of being.”101

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

At a 1985 symposium on the possibility of life beyond biological death held at Georgetown University and convened by U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, physicist Paul Davies expressed a similar openness.

“We are all agreed that, at least insofar as human beings are concerned, mind is a product of matter, or put more accurately, mind finds expression through matter (specifically our brains). The lesson of the quantum is that matter can only achieve concrete, well-defined existence in conjunction with mind. Clearly, if mind is pattern rather than substance, then it is capable of many different representations.”103

Even psychoneuroimmunologist Candace Pert, another participant at the symposium, was receptive to the idea.

“I think it is important to realize that information is stored in the brain, and it is conceivable to me that this information could transform itself into some other realm. Where does the information go after the destruction of the molecules (the mass) that compose it? Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, and perhaps biological information flow cannot just disappear at death and must be transformed into another realm,” she says.104

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.

“The separation of the two - matter and spirit - is an abstraction. The ground is always one.”105



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?

We will explore this possibility a little later. First, another question must be asked. If the existence of this higher dimension is no longer at issue, then what are its parameters? More specifically, who are the beings that inhabit it, and what is their society, dare one say their civilization, really like?

These are, of course, difficult questions to answer.


When Whitton tried to find out the identity of the beings who counseled people in the between-life state, he found the answer elusive.

“The impression my subjects gave - the ones who could answer the question - was that these were entities who had completed their cycle of incarnations here,” he says.106

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.

“Whatever they may be, [these beings] have the ability to radiate a warmth of friendliness that evokes complete trust,” he observes, “Perceiving our thoughts is absurdly easy for [them].”


And “the entire history of humankind and earth is available to them in the most minute detail.”

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,

“totally solicitous as to the well-being of the human beings with whom they are associated.”107

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.

The most notable feature of these great cities is that they are brilliantly luminous. They are also frequently described as foreign in architecture, and so sublimely beautiful that, like all of the other features of these implicate dimensions, words fail to convey their grandeur. In describing one such city Swedenborg said that it was a place “of staggering architectural design, so beautiful that you would say this is the home and the source of the art itself.”108

People who visit these cities also frequently assert that they have an unusual number of schools and other buildings associated with the pursuit of knowledge. Most of Whitton’s subjects recalled spending at least some time hard at work in vast halls of learning equipped with libraries and seminar rooms while in the between-life state.109


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

“Throughout my high-school and college years I had vivid and frequent dreams that I was attending classes on spiritual subjects at a strangely beautiful university in some sublime and otherworldly place.


These were not anxiety dreams about going to school, but incredibly pleasant flying dreams in which I floated weightlessly to lectures on the human energy field and reincarnation. During these dreams I sometimes encountered people I had known in this life but who had died, and even people who identified themselves as souls about to be reborn.

The only problem is that in an imaginal realm such descriptions don’t mean very much. One can never be sure whether the spectacular architectural structures NDEers encounter are realities or just allegorical phantasms.


For instance, both Moody and Ring have reported cases in which NDEers said that the buildings of higher learning they visited were not just devoted to knowledge, but were literally built out of knowledge.112

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.

The same is true of the beings one encounters in the subtler dimensions.


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:

The first of these I saw I remember very clearly, and the manner of its appearance: mere was at first a dazale of light, and then 1 saw that this came from the heart of a tall figure with a body apparently shaped out of half-transparent or opalescent air, and throughout the body ran a radiant, electrical fire, to which the heart seemed the centre.


Around the head of this being and through its waving luminous hair, which was blown all about the body like living strands of gold, there appeared naming wing-like auras. From the being itself light seemed to stream outwards in every direction; and the effect left on me after the vision was one of extraordinary lightness, joyousness, or ecstasy.113

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 about them.

On the other hand, Monroe asserts that once he has been in the presence of one of these nonphysical entities for a while, it discards its appearance and he perceives nothing, although he continues to sense "the radiation that is the entity."114 Again the question can be asked, When a journeyer to the inner dimensions encounters a being of light, is that being a reality or just an allegorical phantasm?


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.

We can take heart in the fact that the hologram-like images our minds construct in the afterlife realm appear to bear at least some relationship to the something that is there. When we encounter a disembodied cloud of pure knowledge, we convert it into a school or library.


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.

As for the ultimate identity of these beings, we can deduce from their behavior that they are older, wiser, and possess some deep and loving connection to the human species, but beyond this the question remains unanswered as to whether they are gods, angels, the souls of human beings who have finished reincarnating, or something that is altogether beyond human comprehension.


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 Omnijective Universe

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.

“The figures appeared so full and lifelike I could not understand why my hands could not feel what was so plain and distinct to my sight,” the woman later wrote.115

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.

Unlike the figures at Knock, the Zeitoun apparitions moved about and waved at the crowds of people who regularly gathered to see them. However, they too had many holographic aspects. Their appearance was always heralded by a brilliant flash of light. Like holograms shifting from their frequency aspects and slowly coming into focus, they were at first amorphous and slowly coalesced into human shape.


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.

“I’ve interviewed quite a number of these people, and when you hear them talk about what they saw you can’t get rid of the feeling that they’re describing some sort of holographic projection,” says Grosso.116

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.

Others nave also agreed that belief in Mary is the motivating force that causes these projections to coalesce into being.


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.



“there existed a forty-year-old tradition that a Marian visitation would eventually take place at the church,” says Rogo.


"These preoccupations may have gradually built up a psychic ‘blueprint’ of the Virgin within the church itself, i.e., an ever-increasing pool of psychic energy created by the thoughts of the Zeitouniaris which in 1968 became so high-pitched that an image of the Virgin Mary burst into physical reality!”117

In previous writings I, too, have offered a similar explanation of Marian visions.118

There is evidence that some UFOs may also be some kind of hologramlike phenomenon. When people first started reporting sightings of what appeared to be spacecraft from other planets in the late 1940s, researchers who delved deeply enough into the reports to realize that at least some of them had to be taken seriously assumed that they were exactly what they appeared to be - glimpses of intelligently guided crafts from more advanced and probably extraterrestrial civilizations.


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.

Some of the features of the phenomenon that indicate they are not extraterrestrial include the following: First, there are too many sightings; literally thousands of encounters with UFOs and their occupants have been documented, so many that it is difficult to believe they could all be actual visits from other planets.


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.

Third, they do not behave as extraterrestrial visitors. Instead of making the proverbial landing on the White House lawn, they appear to farmers and stranded motorists. They chase jets but don’t attack. They dart around in the sky allowing dozens and sometimes hundreds of witnesses to see them, but they show no interest in making any formal contact.


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.

Finally, and most curious of all, UFOs do not even behave as physical objects do. They have been watched on radar screens to make instant ninety-degree-angle turns while traveling at enormous speeds - an antic that would rip a physical object apart They can change size, instantly vanish into nothingness, appear out of nowhere, change color, and even change shape (traits that are also displayed by their occupants).


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,

“It is the behavior of an image, or a holographic projection.”119

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.

Indeed, the inadequacy of the extra dimensional explanation, at least in the terms in which it was initially couched, only becomes more glaring as still further unusual aspects of the UFO phenomenon come into focus. One of the more baffling of these is growing evidence that UFO encounters are less of an objective experience and more of a subjective, or psychological, one.


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

Other UFO encounters are even more surreal and dreamlike in character, and in the literature one can find cases in which UFO entities sing absurd songs or throw strange objects (such as potatoes) at witnesses; cases that start out as straightforward abductions aboard spacecraft but end up as hallucinogenic journeys through a series of Dantesque realities; and cases in which humanoid aliens shape-shift into birds, giant insects, and other phantasmagoric creatures.

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.

The absurd behavior of UFO entities is the same as the mischievous behavior of elves and fairies in Celtic legends, the Norse gods, and the trickster figures among the Native Americans, says Vallee.


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

What, then, are UFOs and related phenomena?


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?

And yet, if UFOs and related phenomena are merely psychic projections, how are we to explain the physical traces they leave behind, the burnt circles and deep impressions found at the sites of landings, the unmistakable tracks they make on radar screens, and the scars and incision marks they leave on the people on whom they perform their medical examinations?


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

“I’m finding that I’m drawn more and more to points of view that allow me not only to acknowledge and honor the reality of these different experiences, but also to see the connections between realms that, for the most part, have been studied by different categories of scholars,” states Ring.


“Shamanism tends to be thrown into anthropology. UFOs tend to be thrown into whatever ufology is. NDEs are studied by parapsychologists and medical people. And Stan Grof studies psychedelic experiences from a transpersonal psychology perspective. I think there’s good reason to hope that the imaginal can be, and the holographic might still prove to be, perspectives that can allow one to see not the identities, but the linkages and commonalities between these different types of experiences.”124

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.

Dr. Peter Rojcewicz, a folklorist at the Juilliard School in New York City, has also concluded that UFOs are omnijective. In fact, he believes the time has come for folklorists to realize that probably all of the phenomena discussed by Vallee in Passport to Magonia are as real as they are symbolic of processes deep in the human psyche.

“There exists a continuum of experiences where reality and imagination imperceptibly flow into each other,” he states.

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

Numerous other researchers, including Vallee, Grosso, and Whitley Strieber, author of the bestselling book Communion and one of the most famous and articulate victims of a UFO abduction, have also acknowledged the seeming omnijective nature of the phenomenon.


As Strieber states, encounters with UFO beings,

“may be our first true quantum discovery in the large-scale world: The very act of observing it may be creating it as a concrete actuality, with sense, definition, and a consciousness of its own.”126

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,

“The gates of Pluto must not be unlocked, within is a people of dreams.”

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 the omnijective cosmos, where UFOs have their place alongside quasars and salamanders, the issue of the veridical, or hallucinatory, status of glowing, circular apparitions, becomes moot. The problem is not whether they exist, or in what sense they exist, but what ultimate aim they serve.”127

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,

“UFOs and other extraordinary phenomena are manifestations of a disturbance in the collective unconscious of the human species.”128

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

Vallee is also in this camp:

“I believe that the UFO phenomenon is one of the ways through which an alien form of intelligence of incredible complexity is communicating with us symbolically.


There is no indication that it is extraterrestrial. Instead, there is mounting evidence that it. .. [comes from] other dimensions beyond spacetime; from a multiverse which is all around us, and of which we have stubbornly refused to consider in spite of the evidence available to us for centuries.”130

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.

And if we are being visited by beings who are as insubstantial and plastic in form as the bodies OBEers find themselves in after they have exteriorized, it is not at all surprising that they might appear in a chameleon-like multitude of shapes. In fact, their actual appearance may be so beyond our comprehension that it may be our own hollographically organized minds that give them these shapes.


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.

It is interesting to note that if this is the case, it means that the true reality of these beings is apparently so transmundane and strange that we have to plumb the deepest regions of our folk memories and mythological unconscious to find the necessary symbols to give them form. It also means that we must be exceedingly careful in interpreting their actions.


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.

On the other hand, if it is possible for the faith of the citizens of Knock and Zeitoun to cause luminous images of the Virgin to coalesce into existence, for the minds of physicists to dabble around with the reality of the neutrino, and for yogis such as Sai Baba to materialize physical objects out of thin air, it only stands to reason that we would also find ourselves awash with holographic projections of our beliefs and mythologies. At least some anomalous experiences may fall into this category.

For instance, history tells us that Constantine and his soldiers saw an enormous flaming cross in the sky, a phenomenon that seems to be nothing more than a psychic exteriorization of the emotions the army responsible for nothing short of the Christianization of the pagan world was feeling on the eve of their historic undertaking.


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.

It is clear to me that what we are calling UFO and other folkloric experiences are really a wide range of phenomena and probably include all of the above. I have also long been of the opinion that these two explanations are not mutually exclusive. It may be that Constantine’s flaming cross was also a manifestation of an extradimensional intelligence.


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.

Another concept from the new physics may be relevant here. After acknowledging that consciousness is the agent that allows a subatomic particle such as an electron to pop into existence, we should not therefore jump to the conclusion that we are the sole agents in this creative process, cautions University of Texas physicist John Wheeler. We are creating subatomic particles and hence the entire universe, says Wheeler, but they are also creating us. Each creates the other in what he calls a “self-reference cosmology.”131


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 spectrum of events we are lumping into the broad category of UFO encounters may also include phenomena with which we are not even yet familiar. For instance, researchers who believe the phenomenon is some kind of psychic projection invariably assume that it is a projection of the collective human mind. However, as we have seen in this book, in a holographic universe we can no longer view consciousness as confined solely to the brain.


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.

One thing that we do know is that in a holographic universe, a universe in which separateness ceases to exist and the innermost processes of the psyche can spill over and become as much a part of the objective landscape as the flowers and the trees, reality itself becomes little more than a mass shared dream. In the higher dimensions of existence, these dreamlike aspects become even more apparent, and indeed numerous traditions have commented on this fact.


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?

Of the religious and mythological traditions that address this question, most give the same answer, It is the dream of a single divine intelligence, of God. The Hindu Vedas and yogic texts assert again and again that the universe is God’s dream. In Christianity the sentiment is summed up in the oft repeated saying, we are all thoughts in the mind of God, or as the poet Keats put it, we are all part of God’s “long immortal dream.”

But are we being dreamed by a single divine intelligence, by God, or are we being dreamed by the collective consciousness of all things -  by all the electrons, 2 particles, butterflies, neutron stars, sea cucumbers, human and nonhuman intelligences in the universe?


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.”


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