It’s been a while. There have been wonderfully overflowing visits from two of my kids and their grown-up kids, and two out-of-town conferences in which I was a speaker, and a steady stream of hometown obligations including issues of local turmoil but also an exciting weekend-long program of which I was the organizer. And somehow, after the publication of Dancing Past the Dark and almost 100 posts on this blog, it felt as though I had run out of things to say about NDEs and anything else of substance. [Read more…] about Reality and non-reality
The first book I read by Stanislav and Christina Grof was Beyond death: The gates of consciousness (1980, Thames & Hudson). It is a concise and gorgeously illustrated look across time and different ethnic and religious groups at the astonishing similarities in their concepts of death and the afterlife. It was an eye-opener.
This post is taken from notes I made during my first reading of the book, with page numbers as notations. Some are quotes, others are paraphrases; all are, it seems to me still, very much worth taking in. [Read more…] about The experiential worlds of Stanislav Grof, M.D., #2: NDE realities
With the recent post about Tibetan delogs [here], this ongoing discussion of distressing near-death experiences shifted its exploration of the Western idea of hell to a wider setting. Today it widens yet again, this time not geographically but conceptually, with a guest post by Micah Hanks from the blog Mysterious Universe.
A prolific writer and researcher, Micah addresses a variety of unexplained phenomena in the more esoteric realms of the strange and unusual as well as cultural phenomena, human history, and the prospects of our technological future as a species influenced by science. He is the author of several books, including Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule; is an executive editor for Intrepid Magazine; writes for a variety of other publications, including Mysterious Universe; and produces a weekly podcast that follows his research at his popular website, www.gralienreport.com. Hanks lives in the heart of Appalachia near Asheville, North Carolina.
This article originally appeared on Mysterious Universe and is reprinted here with permission.
Universal Knowledge: the Akashic, Jung, and
the Unconscious Mind
My interest in the myths, symbols, and the unusual aspects of life often leads me into some fairly strange sub-adventures that underlie my day-to-day life. There are even certain points where I begin to feel that there is something of a continuum between them, and that particular themes will begin to emerge over and over again, until they finally command my attention. And interestingly, these sorts of instances often will yield the most fruit in terms of insights I am able to come away with regarding odd bits of esoterica.
One such instance involves a rather strange series of events surrounding the historic figure known as John Dee, a scientist, advisor, and spy for Queen Elizabeth I, in addition to having undertaken a variety of magical workings in his day. Knowing my interest in (and aptitude for) matters involving symbology, a woman had contacted me a while ago to ask whether I might know the meaning behind a certain strange little symbol: it resembled a stick man, with what resembled horns protruding from the head. Indeed, I did recognize the symbol, and within a few minutes, after initially mistaking it for being associated with the magician Aleister Crowley, I managed to confirm that it was the Monas Hieroglyphica of John Dee. In doing so, I also managed to spark a strange debate about the origins of symbols and information that the human mind seems capable of accessing at times… a process which some feels has ties to the otherworldly.
Once it was revealed that I had given the correct answer (which was posted on a Facebook group where others were attempting to solve the same riddle), I was subsequently contacted by a woman who wished to know how I had deciphered the symbol. She then told me she was a psychic, specializing in remote viewing, and wondered if I too, as she had done, managed to decipher the riddle “by consulting with the Akashic Record.” For the moment, I had somehow managed to give the impression that I was in touch with some kind of extra-bodily universal intelligence… but where, in fact, did my knowledge of the Hieroglyphica come from?
I found this question rather strange, and while I had to admit that I had not knowingly been in direct contact with a nonphysical “library”, of sorts, which stored universal knowledge, I had been intrigued by symbols like Dee’s Monas (pictured right) for quite some time, and had merely stumbled across the image at some point. But the question of whether I had been able to consult with “Akashic Records” was somewhat synchronistic all the same, since I had only recently been contacted by a friend, who after reading my book The UFO Singularity, asked me whether I thought artificial intelligence in the future might be able to solve the UFO riddle by accessing the Akashic Records.
For those unfamiliar with the topic, the so-called “Akashic Records” refers to a concept found in the mythos surrounding many spiritualist and religious teachings, believed to contain “all knowledge of human experience and all experiences,” along with the complete history of the cosmos. This information is “written”, woven, or encoded into the very fabric reality, a state sometimes referred to as the ”aether.” The name itself is derived from the old Sanskrit “akasha,” a word used to express similar aether-like concepts of an all encompassing “substance” that permeates all creation.
Edgar Cayce, the great “sleeping prophet,” was actually said to have attained his knowledge of ancient lost civilizations by directly accessing the Akashic Records while in a trance state, though this was not asserted by Cayce himself, but revealed later in the first book in an odd series, called The Law of One, where it is stated that Cayce obtained the information (here again, this “answer” is channeled in similar fashion), revealing that humans occasionally access such realms of knowledge that exist beyond the mind alone. The relevant passage reads as follows:
“We have explained before that the intelligent infinity is brought into intelligent energy from eighth density or octave. The one sound vibratory complex called Edgar used this gateway to view the present, which is not the continuum you experience but the potential social memory complex of this planetary sphere. The term your peoples have used for this is the ‘Akashic Record’ or the ‘Hall of Records’.”
But the notion that humans may be capable of accessing information they would otherwise not be capable of attaining is mirrored in the study of psychology as well, particularly in the works of Carl Jung. In his essay, Confrontation with the Unconscious, he notes the appearance of an archetype he calls “Philemon,” which was an older male figure he refers to as a guide throughout his various imaginary visions. At one point, Jung begins to recognize the information imparted to him by Philemon as seeming to emanate from someplace other than his own mind:
Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him. and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. He said I treated thoughts as if I generated them myself, but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room, or birds in the air, and added, “If you should see people in a room, you would not think that you had made those people, or that you were responsible for them.” It was he who taught me psychic objectivity, the reality of the psyche. Through him the distinction was clarified between myself and the object of my thought. He confronted me in an objective manner, and I understood that there is something in me which can say things that I do not know and do not intend, things which may even be directed against me.
It is a very strange notion indeed, that some aspects of human existence may be rooted within a complex collective unconsciousness, as Jung supposed; even more strange and perplexing is the idea that the human mind might even draw information from elsewhere… places or planes of thought and imagination that exist beyond the mind itself. I certainly don’t feel that I’ve done this myself, especially in my modest ability to reflect upon seeing, at one point, John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica; let alone do I acknowledge that there are components within the mind that, in scientific terms, might be capable of extending beyond the physical. But the prevalence of this concept in various cultures and traditions, along with allusions to similar processes expressed by Jung, do provide some compelling and challenging notions about the inner workings of the human mind.
We hear a lot about the importance of being an individual. What about the importance of our being part of something larger than ourselves? I think you’ll find this repost from Craig Weiler’s blog, The Weiler Psi, a really good start to 2012. Consider it a New Year’s present.
The blog Skeptico recently featured an interview with PMH Atwater, after which a couple of commenters kept asking about the medical evidence that her three NDEs happened. In fact, they wondered whether any NDE can be said to happen in the absence of corroboration. Where are the records? Or, to quote one comment, “An NDE-like experience without any witnesses or medical documentation to support it can be anything, including hallucinations.”
Those questioners are far from alone. The fact that this question keeps being asked is an indication that a great many people don’t get the idea of “experience.” Any experience is a private, personal happening in consciousness. It is not a public activity. By definition, a near-death or similar experience cannot be witnessed, although in rare instances it may be shared.
The best a medical record can do is track physiological events and record circumstances. Although a monitoring device may register a blip in some function being recorded, it cannot indicate the presence of an NDE during that blip. No one watching the monitor will see, or feel, or think what the patient is seeing and feeling and thinking. In short, the biological event may be witnessed, but the NDE itself is not open to observers.
It seems ironic that under the most tightly monitored circumstances, in cardiac arrest with stringent clinical recording, studies find the fewest reports of NDEs. Does this mean that near-death experiences in other circumstances are fraudulent? No, it means simply that the conditions surrounding cardiac arrest and resuscitation either do not promote having an NDE or affect a patient’s being physically and cognitively able to report it afterward. As for mistaking one type of experience for another, the differences between the sensations and effects of NDEs and hallucinations have been well documented for two decades; that is no longer an issue except for people who are unaware of the research.
I wonder, after so many thousands of NDE reports with no corroborating medical records but with objective evidence of life changes to indicate that something happened, what is it that people are looking for in demanding medical evidence?