by John E. Mack, M.D.
Editor's Note: This
article was originally presented at the International
Transpersonal Association Conference on "Science,
Spirituality, and the Global Crisis: Toward a World with
a Future," which was held in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It
was delivered on 25 June 1992. It was subsequently
published in Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal
Psychology, Vol. 1, No. 1, Spring 1995, 96-110. An audio
recording is available for purchase from CRS (ITA92,
The author describes how he got into the
study of the UFO abduction experience, a bit of the history of the
field, the phenomenology of UFO abductions, who the abductees are,
his use of non-ordinary states of consciousness in working with them,
some of the physical evidence involved, what effect being abducted
has on the abductees, and his interpretation of the meaning of the
UFO abductions are not a rare phenomenon and have been
estimated to have occurred to three-million Americans. There is a
remarkably precise correspondence to the reports.
relatively little psychopathology.
The author uses a combination o
hypnosis and a breathing technique as treatment in helping the
abductees confront and move through the terrifying memories of the
experiences. Abduction events and descriptions of aliens are
There is both subtle and highly robust physical
evidence that accompanies some of the abductions. The aftermaths of
these events are usually highly traumatic. But in processing these
terrors, abductees are often able to find these events a source of
transformation, in connecting them beyond themselves.
provide a sense of purpose, often linked to an environmental
awareness and a sense of mission related to our precarious global
ecological situation. Their meaning for all of us may lie in
challenging, in a powerful and meaningful way, the species-arrogance
inherent in our Western cultural paradigm. They challenge our
consensus reality in collapsing the boundaries we have placed
between the physical and spiritual domains.
Considering the global
crisis, they may even represent a cosmic intervention or corrective,
spoken to us in the only language we are any longer capable of
hearing-that of the physical and of high technology.
Through Which UFOs Flew
Because of my work with Stanislav Grof and holotropic breathwork and
the way it has brought me on and opened my consciousness, I
sometimes say the UFOs [Unidentified Flying Objects] flew in through
the hole in my psyche that was opened up by the work that I have
done in the transformational area.
Each of us working in the area of consciousness evolution seems to
have our limits.
Some people say,
"Well, that parapsychology stuff
is OK, but astrology - I can't buy into that."
I know a publisher,
who has even published Grof's works, who said that to me.
"I can take astrology or parapsychology, but this UFO
abduction stuff is too far out; I can't accept that. "
was my reaction as well, as I will explain.
One of the things one has to do when working in this field is to
disimpact certain of our words. Our language is for the making of
categories. But the categories we have do not work very well here.
For example, people ask me,
"Is it really true?" or "Did this
literally happen to people?" "Is it real?" they ask.
Well, real is the kind of word that has to be looked at again from
this other point of view. Or take the words, inside and outside - is
this something in the external world or something in the internal
world? Again, these categories get shattered.
What I will do now is relate my own experience of how I got into
this area; then give a bit of the history of the field - very
briefly, because this is a huge subject, a whole domain that I am
only going to be able to touch the high spots of; and then I will
describe the phenomenology some. I am going to describe who the
abductees are, my use of non-ordinary states of consciousness in
working with them, a little of the physical evidence, what effect
being abducted has on the abductees, and finally, how I put together
the meaning of this phenomenon.
I refer you to four books in which to explore this further: One is
by Kenneth Ring (1985), called Heading Toward Omega. Another is by
Keith Thompson (1991), called Angels and Aliens.
(1987) work, titled Intruders, is a classic in this field. Finally,
there is David Jacobs's (1990) recently published book, Secret Life:
Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions.
With the UFO Phenomenon
My experience with this phenomenon is fairly recent. In 1989 I was
given a paper, written by Keith Thompson, that Stan Grof was
preparing for a book. it contained a Jungian interpretation of the
I kept asking myself at the time,
"Yes, but what is
the data? What is really going on here?"
Nothing much happened until a friend - another member of my training
group working with Stan Grof - asked me if I wanted to meet Budd
Hopkins. I said, "Who's Budd Hopkins?" Hopkins, of course, is the
classic pioneer in this field. That was late in 1989. I met him in
January in New York. It was one of those moments you kind of
remember the date exactly - January 10th -w here something shifts in
When Budd told me about these cases, what was so powerful for me was
the very precise correspondence of the experiences people were
reporting, coming forth with great reluctance from all over the
United States and all parts of the world. When, for example, one
experiencer would be shown a picture of the aliens drawn by another
experiencer, he or she would react with horror, because that meant
someone else was having the experience and their notion that they
could somehow dismiss this as a dream was shattered.
struck me as something that could only occur if something real, and
not imaginary, had happened to them. Dreams do not work like that.
People do not respond to another's dreams that way. So something in
me said there is something going on here that I do not understand.
Little by little I got drawn into this, and I was referred to cases.
By the beginning of June of that same year I had worked with
approximately fifty-five individuals - forty-one of whom fulfilled
the strict criteria of an abduction case, which include being taken
by strange, humanoid creatures into an enclosure, a UFO, and
subjected to a variety of procedures, which I will tell you about.
My cases include children as young as two years old. The oldest
person is fifty-seven.
There is debate in UFO literature as to whether this phenomenon is
fundamentally different from the folkloric history of visitation by
little people and fairies, and there are some similarities to these
phenomena. But what is distinctive about UFO abductions - at least
ever since the
Betty and Barney Hill case began the current
abduction phenomena in 1961 - is that these cases have been
subjected to firsthand empirical study and are not handed down
through an oral tradition.
As Eddie Bullard (1982), a folklorist who
has looked into this and who is a most experienced person, put it,
in UFO cases there is a core phenomenon which is highly articulated
and detailed and thus is unlike other folkloric reports, which have
great cultural variability.
In his two books, Missing Time (1983) and Intruders (1987), Budd
Hopkins described many of the fundamental features of the phenomenon
that I will tell you about.
And David Jacobs's (1990) book, more
recently, has described for the first time the fundamental elements
from the beginning of the abduction, through the procedures that
occur on the ship, to the end of the experience.
Three-Million Americans Abducted
A Roper poll (1991) based on a sample of six-thousand Americans and
conducted from July through September of 1991 asked people whether
they had experienced a number of the phenomena associated with UFO
abductions - e.g., the experience of being taken through a wall, the
inexplicable bright light strange beings around their bed, or
actually seeing a UFO.
If people had four out of five of these
experiences, it was reasoned there was a likelihood or a good
possibility they were UFO abductees. Based on this estimate in that
poll, it is conceivable that as many as three-million Americans have
had this experience. So, you see, it is not a rare phenomenon.
It is striking to me that many of my new cases are people who were
known to the UFO community but had not come forward before, coming
forward only now as it seems to them that more "respectable" people
like myself are taking notice. (Well, presumably I am more
respectable, although how long that condition will prevail is
They are saying,
"Well, if a Harvard professor can
take this seriously, then I can come forward, I can report my
For example, one woman - a thirty-year-old, very stable person,
mother of three kids - had this experience of seven little guys
coming and taking her through walls to the ship. She would say it
was terrifying to her.
Her mother would respond,
“Oh, you've had that nightmare.”
And she would say,
“No, Mother, it wasn't a nightmare. It really
happened to me.”
And that kept happening to her. Still, all her life her mother would
say it was a nightmare.
But then she heard about me and thought,
"Well, if this man believes it's happening, I can tell him my
She was relieved in one sense but crestfallen in
another sense to discover that yes indeed, this is an experience
that many people have had.
Who Are the
Now, who are the abductees?
First of all, it struck me how ordinary
these people are. They exhibit relatively little psychopathology,
except that which might be considered the result of the impact of
this very disturbing experience. I have housewives, clerks, prison
guards, a chef in a Boston restaurant. There have been numerous
psychological studies of these individuals; none has discovered any
psychopathology in great degree that could account for the
Kenneth Ring (1985) has talked about the possibility that there
might be some kind of encounter-prone personality. The fantasy-prone
personality - a thesis of Keith Basterville from Australia - has not
proved out. Yet one of the difficulties involved is to know what is
cause and what is effect, because the process of being abducted may
begin as early as nursery age.
There have been abductions of infants
from nurseries, for example.
Also, there has been criticism of the use of hypnosis, which is
important in investigating these cases. Yet we have no evidence that
hypnosis has introduced distortion into this phenomenon. What
hypnosis tends to do is to access memories that have been walled off
and are not available to the individual because of the intense
traumatic nature of the phenomenon. There is, in addition, the fact
that experiencers feel that the aliens have ordered them to not
remember, have shifted their consciousness, and have "turned them
off" so that they are not expected to remember this.
state of hypnosis seems to reverse this amnesia.
My Approach in
My own approach in treating abductees, which has evolved in
investigating this phenomenon, is to use hypnotic relaxation in
combination with intense focus on the breath. I can not just use
holotropic breathwork alone - although that would be interesting -
because I need to talk to them.
Breathwork precludes talking, for
the most part. At any rate, I first establish in an interview, which
lasts at least an hour and a half, that the person has the
suggestive indicators of abduction - like little guys around the bed
or periods of missing time. However, sometimes they will remember
the whole abduction experience, even initially. Interestingly,
people who have taken psychedelics at some time in their lives tend
to remember the experience this way.
I do not have enough statistics
about this to be sure that this is a robust phenomenon, but there
appears to be a tendency for these sorts of people to remember their
experiences without a non-ordinary state of consciousness and to be
able to explore what has occurred to them without hypnosis.
generally when I have used the standard hypnosis approach and
relaxation to get someone into a non-ordinary state, into a trance,
and when they reach a difficult place where some intense anxiety
comes or when there is some disturbing sensation in the body, then I
will have them focus on the breath and go deep into the breathing.
It returns the person into the trance.
It also helps them to move
through the fear and the stressing-out effect that they are
experiencing at the time.
[It might be useful to restate that a large proportion of the
material relating to abductions is recalled without the use of an
altered state of consciousness, and that many abduction reporters
appear to relive powerful experiences after only the most minimal
relaxation exercise, hardly justifying the word "hypnosis" at all.
The relaxation exercise is useful to relieve the experiencer's need
to attend to the social demands and other stimuli of face-to-face
conversation, and to relieve the energies involved in repressing
memories and emotion.]
One thing I want to emphasize, because I think it is fundamental in
distinguishing this phenomenon from fantasy or delusion or in its
diagnosis, is the intense distressing affect that is associated with
the recall of these experiences. There are individuals who literally
shake with fear confronting the memories of how they were paralyzed
or upon seeing again the little aliens with the big black eyes.
Their bodies shake, and they scream literally with terror as they
remember the intrusive procedures which occurred on the ships.
contrasts with research like Lawson's (1985, 1987), which uses a
Such research asks,
"Well, what do you imagine an
encounter would be like?"
And people can somehow concoct what an
abduction would be like if they were to have one.
But it is the
affective power of the real abduction experience that gives
authenticity to it and tells me as a psychiatrist that something
powerful and disturbing has, in fact, happened to people.
the Abduction Experience?
So the great mystery remains: What is it? What is it in fact that
happens? That is what I will turn to now.
The basic abduction experience occurs almost out of nowhere. The
person may have some premonitory suggestion. They will be in their
bed or in a car. One woman was in a snowmobile. They may hear a
humming. They may see a UFO up close. And then they undergo a change
in consciousness. They do not exactly lose consciousness; there is a
period they can not account for. It passes, and then they are kind
of woozy at the end of two or three hours when they realize the time
Occasionally they will remember what happened.
What I am going to relate will include the information gotten from
the use of the non-ordinary state through the technique I have
described. They may see light in the bedroom or a beam of light
outside. Then they find themselves, against their wills, being
carried to the light, through a wall or the window, wherever they
happen to be.
Their first reaction, when they first recall, is that
this just can not be real. It does not fit any laws that we know.
Yet they have been witnessed by their relatives to not be present
during that time.
They are physically gone, and families become very
distressed. Mothers become distressed when their children are in
fact gone. One of the things most difficult to accept is that this
can actually have a literal factual basis.
Yet we must acknowledge
that facts that do not fit still must be looked at.
Aliens Look Like
One of the hardest things for the abductees is to look at the beings
The beings are generally described fairly consistently,
despite the fact that until the last several years descriptions in
the media were not common. I did not myself know the basic
description until about four-and-a-half, five years ago. Usually
they are described as small, having large heads and big black eyes.
Their eyes are the most prominent feature. They have a kind of
rudimentary nose, nostril holes, a slit of a mouth, no ears, and are
about three, three-and-a-half feet tall.
Sometimes there is a doctor or a leader who is described as somewhat
taller, sometimes with wrinkles in the head. He seems to be the
figure who is in charge on the UFO, having long arms, three or four
fingers, thin, tapering legs, a chest without forms, and no genitals
are seen. Occasionally, there are larger, seemingly human figures
that appear to be associated with the little humanoids.
Keep in mind that I hear myself saying these words and I can not
believe I am saying them. You probably can not either. Yet this is
the consistent account of otherwise normal, healthy, sane people,
who do not believe it either.
They are only first confronting the
truth of it with me or other investigators.
Inside the Ship
Then the ship is described.
Abductees may or may not see the ship
from the outside. The next thing they know they are inside the ship,
and it has kind of curved walls, a kind of coolness inside. They are
naked, and they are subjected to a series of procedures, which
include the taking of skin samples, and the insertions of probes of
various kinds in the nose.
Abductees who do not know each other and
have not gotten this information in the media consistently give
elaborate and highly detailed descriptions of instruments. The media
did not have the details of these reports until fairly recently, and
it is still fairly sketchy in the media, so it is hard to account
for this consistency in reports. The most prominent aspect of the
experience is the urological-gynecological probings. Instruments are
inserted into the vagina. Often, mothers claim to have had fetuses
While there is not a physically documented case of fetus
removal, the experience is that they have been pregnant and the
fetus has been removed. Men have had sperm samples taken against
their wills. It is highly distressing. That is one of the most
disturbing parts about it. However, I will discuss shortly how that
in itself is not the core or most disturbing aspect of the
experience as you go more deeply into the phenomenon.
There is also intense probing of the head; sometimes there is the
experience of implants being put in. Several of these implants, by
the way, have been removed and are currently being analyzed. So far,
none of these have been definitely proven to not be made of
materials that could be on Earth. There is a lot of research going
on about the physical aspects of this, which I will mention in a
The experience ends with the return of abductees via a reversal of
the procedure I mentioned. They are usually returned to the place
where they had been, but funny things happen there.
Their shirts may
be inside out. Or they may be placed some place different from where
they started out from.
There are accompanying physical dimensions to this phenomenon.
by themselves would not constitute evidence that would satisfy
scientists, but in the context of the abductions the physical
evidence is highly important. Abductees may wake up with unexplained
cuts, scoop marks, or bleeding noses. There is one case in which
four or five people were abducted from an apartment and all woke up
with nosebleeds the next morning.
In association with the
experience, they may notice that there is burned earth outside of
the apartment from where the UFO landed.
The physical evidence is sometimes subtle. One of the things that is
important in terms of consciousness and our notions of reality is
that the evidence here has to be taken as a totality. To rely on the
physical evidence by itself might not satisfy us. Yet taken within
the context of the whole, highly robust psychological experience of
this phenomenon, it creates a pattern. So subtler information is
something we need to be attentive to as we expand our
On the other hand, sometimes the physical evidence
is not so subtle. There is a case being explored in New York of a
regression hypnosis that Budd Hopkins did. In this case, a woman
passed out through a window of an apartment building in which she
lived, on the Lower East Side. This was about four years ago.
then, several witnesses have come forward who were outside the
apartment building, who saw the UFO, who saw the beings, and who saw
her and the little beings go into the UFO, and then saw the UFO
going into the East River. They were on the Brooklyn Bridge or
someplace on the street; and they exactly described, physically from
outside the building, what Hopkins discovered and described in the
hypnotically regressed abduction experience of the woman.
sometimes you get this highly robust physical evidence, and
sometimes the evidence is very subtle.
of the Experience
The fact that these experiences can occur in families adds a deeper
and in some ways more troubling dimension to the aftermath of the
That is, several members of a family may be
taken; the experiences may even span several generations, including
parents and grandparents. Yet families have great difficulty talking
to each other about it because it violates consensus reality.
rate, the two fundamental sequel are the traumatic/post-traumatic
nature of the phenomenon - although it is not altogether
post-traumatic, as I will explain - and the
transformational/growth-enhancing dimension of it.
First the traumatic: The trauma has four aspects to it. The first
element is the experience itself - to be paralyzed, to be taken
against your will, to be subjected to these intrusive, terrifying
procedures. The terror is enormous, and it is buried or repressed
for the reasons that I mentioned.
The second aspect is the isolation that these individuals feel. They
are very reluctant to tell their parents. They get told they are too
imaginative or that they are dreaming. As adults, if the guy who is
abducted tells what happened, say, in a bar, he will be told he is
crazy. So abductees have each learned, as one of them put it, to go
They do not tell their experiences, so they feel very
isolated. They know something of profound importance has happened in
their lives, something that has great meaning; but they dare not
talk about it.
The third aspect, which is the one that has particular relevance to
our discussion, is that it totally shatters their understanding of
consensus reality, as of course it does for us. Claire, a woman who
was at an M.I.T. conference on UFO abductions, shared that she is
the second of four generations of people who have been abducted and
is very troubled that she can not protect her little four-year-old
She related how her granddaughter draws pictures of
how she locks herself in a box so that Mu, the head alien, will not
take her sometime.
Claire also said - and this is characteristic of
what abductees say to me,
"I would relish the idea that I'm insane.
To accept that this is genuine undermines everything that I have
accepted as reality. I like skeptics; they give me an out."
people have come to me, particularly recently, who have come forward
with all the attention that seems somewhat to have legitimized the
phenomenon (although not really, it seems still to be mostly
"tabloid" material rather than mainstream). But these people win
come to me, and I will listen.
At the end I can see they are
distressed, and they will usually say things like,
"I came here to
get you to tell me I'm crazy. " And I will say, "I don't understand
this. It's a deep mystery to me. I've seen many people like you, and
it's not an expression of madness. "
And to them that is a loss, because it strips away the defense of
denial that used to tell them this can not be so.
The fourth aspect of the trauma resides in the fact that the
experience can recur at any time. Unlike many other traumas, it is
not over, when it is over.
The second important dimension of the UFO abduction phenomenon, and
one I want to underscore, is the element of transformation.
and others who have worked with the trauma of this have discovered
is that the abductees begin to feel that their experiences were for
a purpose or had a positive meaning to them.
That is, when the
trauma has been fully experienced and processed intensely in the non-ordinary state of consciousness, after more than one-my, two,
three, or four hypnosis sessions-something begins to happen in the
abductees and in their perceptions of their experiences.
that the experience is expanding their consciousness, that they are
connecting with themselves, that they are opening up to a whole new
perspective on the universe.
One man went through just incredible terror. He had a sperm sample
taken from him against his will, and he was screaming and yelling on
the bed as I worked with him in hypnosis.
At the end he said,
know, John, the physical terror is minuscule compared to the terror
of acknowledging that this is real, of having to look into the eyes
of the aliens."
The eye contact, which is sometimes strongly
resisted, is a very powerful, confirming matter for these
individuals. The terror of that acknowledgment is much greater, as
this man said, than the physical reality of being overwhelmed and
taken on the ship. I have seen this pattern in case after case.
Another important transformational aspect pertains to the intense
information that abductees are given on the ship about the global
crisis. For example, they may be shown a wasted landscape after
nuclear war or environmental destruction. They may see the Earth
dying, with polluted atmosphere and foul rivers. In response to
this, and almost uniformly, they develop a powerful environmental
consciousness. Some of them go so far as to drop the jobs they have
However, it should be noted that this deep transformation only
occurs when they have worked intensely with their experiences in a
non-ordinary state of consciousness. These transformations do not
normally occur spontaneously; the abductees have to go deeply into
the experience, it seems. But when they do, many find that they can
bring the experience forward into the work they do in the world. One
woman has begun teaching environmental studies in a school; one has
become a massage therapist; another has become an acupuncturist.
They tend towards work that is more connecting, more transpersonal
if you will.
Another transformation that happens is the intense bonding that
occurs with the aliens after a while. What was originally an
intensely traumatic experience turns into an extraordinarily
From fear of looking into the eyes, they
come to look deeply into those black eyes of the aliens. One woman
described it as being fifty times more powerful than any experience
she had had of connecting with another person on Earth. So they feel
this bonding relationship with something beyond themselves.
Recently I have been getting cases that take this even further. In
deep trance one young man, for example, began to talk about an
inter-species mating process going on. He said there is a connecting
going on beyond the Earth, beyond ourselves, that that is what is
happening with the mating of these two species against our will.
do not think one can understand this sort of thing without some
sense of a larger design, or a divinity, or an anima mundi.
this feeling of inter-species connecting on a very powerful level.
What this one man said to me is that these beings with huge heads
have been too much observing and not enough feeling and that they
look to us for feeling. Creation of hybrid babies, occurring as a
result of this inter-species mating process, appears to be an
important purpose in abductions.
The aliens are very interested in
watching mothers nurture these hybrid babies, whose characteristics
are a mix between human beings and the aliens. This young man - Dane
was his name - claimed that he learned through connecting with the
aliens that we have become too disconnected from our feelings and
that this mating process is to somehow "open up the
heart-mind" - those were his words.
We have lost or we need to develop
The heart has a mind and an agenda all its own to
bring us back home, all of us, by which he meant back to God, or the
evolution of consciousness back to our Ground of Being.
The Meaning of
The last part I wish to relate is how I put the whole phenomenon
together, what meaning I have been able to derive from the whole
structure of this.
This is made difficult by the fact that the
aliens do not necessarily tell you what they are up to unless, as
they put it we are ready to hear it. Furthermore, a theory of this
phenomenon would have to account for a number of disparate matters.
It would have to account for the fact that these people are
otherwise quite ordinary and sane.
It would have to account for the
sightings of UFOs that accompany some of them, the physical
phenomena that are sometimes associated with them, and the fact that
they occur to children as young as three years old.
First, this phenomenon has challenged our sense of reality more
powerfully than almost anything else I am aware of. One man had an
experience ten years earlier that he could remember without
Throughout that time and prior to any investigation with
me, he claimed that the experience had opened him up.
As he put it,
"Once I was open I couldn't stand what we were doing on the Earth.
Just that opening of me changed my whole perspective on our place in
Considering this, it occurs to me that the global crisis, the
destruction of the environment, is the context in which they are
I trust I do not have to spell out those dimensions to
you. That crisis is at root a product of the dominant paradigm of
the Western mind, particularly its inherent dualism and materialism.
Together these philosophical assumptions represent a kind of
species-arrogance. They imply that we are the only intelligence, the
only ones with the brains evolved enough to produce consciousness.
This implies also that we are alone on this planet with our
intelligence, building it up single-"mindedly," but separated in a
meaningless and otherwise non-conscious universe.
Now, the alien phenomenon strikes at almost every aspect of that
fundamental, dominant paradigm of Western psychology and science.
Just one example: The UFOs themselves make a mockery of the
technology we are so proud of.
They go on and off the radar screen.
They appear. They disappear.
Nothing military has any relevance to
them, although they appear to some military quarters to be a threat
to us. Perhaps you have heard the joke that Allen Hyneck, a United
States Air Force officer and former debunker, who switched over to
becoming a believer, used to tell.
He quotes an Air Force colonel
"Why don't we shoot one of them down and see if they're
So we see the Trickster at work here: They exist, they do not exist.
UFOs appear in our physical reality, then disappear from our
physical reality They tell us that whatever illusions we had that we
were in control of the world, of nature, of ourselves, are
shattered. We are utterly not in control. They come; they take us
when they will; they take us onto their ships; they do what they
want with us.
All we can do is surrender and try to stay open to it.
Walls Between Physical and Spiritual
Abductees also experience the collapse of space-time. These are
generally not philosophically sophisticated people.
Yet space and
time to them just seem to fold in and disappear. So it shatters the
notion of a space-time universe as being the only dimension that is
possible. Our Western dualism is also overcome by the bonding that
takes place. The connecting that occurs with the aliens tells us
that we are somehow connected beyond the universe as we know it.
If this were not enough, the abduction phenomenon commits another
cardinal sin to the Western mind. If you think about the cognitive
demography, as it was spelled out to a group of us recently by the
Dalai Lama in India, there are three dimensions of being that are
known to Eastern traditions.
One is the physical, the manifesting
bodies that we know.
Then there is the spirit world - with angels,
Shiva, the gods and goddesses, and so on.
Finally, there is the
level without form. Each tradition has words for that level - the
Holy Spirit in Christianity, the anima mundi, or the Great Spirit of
In the West we have departments of religion,
anthropology, and philosophy to study the second and third domains.
But the only one that is considered real is the first dimension -
the physical, bodied domain, whereas in other cultures those other
domains are real. Of course we generally allow that those domains
sort of exist in people's minds.
But the absolute cardinal sin to
the Western mind - and the thing that will drive my colleagues crazy
and probably end up getting me in trouble - is that there can be
traffic across those barriers, is that the third world can enter the
physical world. Yet that is precisely what this phenomenon indicates
In other words it breaks down that barrier which ought to
belong and stay in the third world, yet it shows up in the physical
The way I understand this - and I am stretching a bit to say this-is
that the higher intelligence, or whatever is at work here as a
"cosmic corrective," can only talk to us in the language we know.
this I mean that many of the abductees I am working with have come
to understand that there is an imbalance in us requiring a cosmic
adjustment an intervention from outside ourselves. Yet the only
language we understand, particularly in Western culture is the
language of the physical, that of the embodied creature. So if any
intelligence wants to reach us, it must come to us in the physical
form. And that is why the aliens enter our world in the familiar
high-tech way they do.
I want to conclude with two quotes. One is from Rainer Maria Rilke.
It is from a letter, quoted in a foreword to Peter Matthieson's
book, The Snow Leopard. Rilke, you may remember, was on a personal
odyssey of his own, as was Peter Mattlhieson.
That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us. To have
courage for the most strange, the most singular, and the most
inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense
been cowardly has done life endless harm.
The experiences that are
called visions, the whole so-called spirit world, death, and all
those things that are so closely akin to us have, by daily parrying,
been so crowded out of life that the senses by which we could have
grasped them have atrophied. To say nothing of God.
The last quote is from an abductee. She is a young mother. She has
been abducted with her son and, perhaps, her husband. She has been
told by the aliens that there is a place from which they come where
time does not exist.
For her, this domain has become
"Truth is truth," she said. "It will
still be there when science is ready to see it or equipped to
Audience Member: Do they say
anything more about where they are from?
John Mack: The problem here is there is a fine tune that seems
to be going on between the consciousness of the abductees and
what the aliens communicate. Sometimes they sound like a Zen koan. Of course, this is reported by abduction researchers as
nonsense, as if to say, it is not for you to know. But it is
said more poetically than that So people will try to find out
what planet they are from, what star, and so on.
All of this is
very interesting but it is not very fruitful. It is like we need
to open up to some other dimension. Jacques Vallee (1990) talks
about a multidimensional universe or a multi reality or other
dimensions entering into our dimension. We do not yet have too
many geographers of a multi-dimensional universe so it is hard
to find a language to talk about that sort of thing.
are some scientists who are experts in the multi-verse, like
Fred Alan Wolf (e.g., 1987) and others, but for most of us that
question is difficult to tackle.
AM: Has the government tried to stop you from doing this
JM: I am not very knowledgeable about this area of government
awareness or involvement with UFOs. It is a whole complicated
area involving documents. However, the general sense I get of
the governments position is that they take the position I might
take if it were my job to provide for the national security.
They basically have this material, but they say there is nothing
to it. It does not exist. And they cover up. That is my sense of
what the government's attitude is. But they have not approached
There was a movie put out about this, called "Intruders." The
main character, a psychiatrist, had seen about three abduction
cases and given one talk. High-level government people
confronted him Hollywood-style. I was a consultant for that
show, but that part I did not want in it. The government heavies
come and try to corrupt the psychiatrist, as much as
acknowledging they are hiding the truth from the public and
trying to get him to play along with the cover-up.
psychiatrist, of course, is high-minded and will not be
corrupted. In the real world, however, none of us - Budd
Hopkins, Dave Jacobs, or myself - have been approached by the
government. I do not think they would know what to do with us if
AM: Could you say more about the meaning of the apparent
harshness of the experience and why this is happening now?
JM: People have come to the transpersonal movement because there
was no place they could come to talk of their mystical
experiences and their power I mentioned other dimensions and
Terence McKenna (1991) has written on parallel
universes. He has also been an advocate of the fact that the
Western mind is so encrusted, so cut off from the divinity, that
it takes a really heavy dose of something to get us opened in
our hearts and in our souls, and that the psychedelics are one
really powerful hit that can bust through the encasement of the
Western mind. I see this abduction phenomenon as another one. It
kind of hits us where we live, in the physical domain.
So it is
also a very powerful kind of opening process, not just for
abductees but for all of us, through the extraordinary meaning
of the phenomenon.
AM: Have you talked with
David Bohm about this, and is there
a branch of physics that deals with the multi-verse?
JM: I think there is increasing interest in it in physics. I
think that the new physics is certainly very compatible to the
possibilities on which the abduction experience open us; it is
very open to it, in fact As for a science of the multi-verse as
such, I do not know.
AM: How do the abductees' eventual feelings toward their
abductors relate to the Stockholm-syndrome, where terrorists
abduct someone and the captives end up feeling a positive
relationship with their captors after a while?
JM: That has actually been the prevailing interpretation, in UFO
abduction research, about the bonding phenomenon. And I think
there may be some of that going on but that the bonding that
occurs is much more profound than that. In the case of
terrorists, I believe there is something they are up to, they
have a self-interest. Maybe aliens do too; I am not saying they
But it really seems to be part of a much more profound
cosmic process, a connecting between two species. There is a
feeling of deception or trickiness involved, but I am not as
taken with the Stockholm syndrome interpretation for it. There
is some of that there, but overall I feel what is going on is
much more meaningful than that
AM: During abductions, is it simply a subjective sense of
time being gone, or do family members notice that they are gone?
JM: Both. There are situations where someone is undergoing' an
abduction experience, and to others it seems they are still
physically present It seems to be more like an out-of-body
experience, and the experiencer feels like Ins or her body has
gone from them. Then there are many other cases - I have a
number of them, and other researchers do too - where the
person's body is actually out of the apartment and may be gone
for several hours.
Travis Walton was gone for several days in 1975, and then he was
found wandering in the woods. So it is not known how long he had
been placed back. But the usual experience involves being gone
between one and three hours. One of my first cases, a young
woman, was abducted with a friend from a rumpus room in her
friends house. They were returned about five or six o'clock in
But when they had not come home and were not found
by either of the two fathers until six o'clock in the morning,
the fathers were understandably very upset.
have you been during the night?"
Only later did the women recover their abduction experience, so
at the time they simply were not there and they could not
explain where they had been.
There were even search parties sent
What characterizes the abduction experience is that it is
physically real and it enters the physical world, but it is also
transpersonal and subjective.
It crosses that barrier between
the hard-edged physical world and the spirit/transpersonal
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