In the Spirit of Collegial Inquiry...

updated: 13 Apr 98

Altered States and Psi Phenomena

Part One

CW:   The Chemistry of Conscious States by Dr Alan Hobson has some interesting ideas relating to this as well. One problem with analyzing dreams is that when you become aware during them they change fundamentally. They could also be something similar to phantom limb pain in which an unused area of the brain remains activated when it would be better off inactive.

CML:   At some level, one is aware of all of his dreams. Otherwise, he wouldn't be "dreaming". I remember virtually all of my own dreams; to me, the dream state is merely a slightly altered state of consciousness. In fact, when I visited a neurologist as a teenager regarding an alleged propensity to enter trancelike states in high school classrooms, I was hooked up to an EEG and told to fall asleep. I couldn't. When the doctor read the trace, however, he was certain that I had been sleeping. I infer that the ability to manifest or retain consciousness in various brainstates varies among individuals.

CW:   That is quite unusual.

CML:   Cal, I notice that you're a fan of Bob Monroe's. Is your involvement strictly academic, or are you attempting to cultivate OBE's? That happens to be a longstanding interest of mine. If you've succeeded in having any OBE's, did you seem to experience any associated psi effects - telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, or psychokinesis? If so, were you able to obtain any sort of real-world evidence to that effect?

As you know, Monroe is famous for discovering a technique called "Hemi-Sync". It was employed by US government remote viewers during the cold war. Have you tried those tapes? Personally, I never needed them - it used to be that as soon as I reclined, I'd have more trouble staying in my body than getting out - but I sometimes wondered whether they might have an amplificative effect.

JW:   I find it immensely intriguing that the subject of "out-of-body-experiences" is being broached.

Recently, on the Sci-Fi channel program called Sightings, there was a case of a remote viewer who did surveilance for the US military - I believe it was during the Vietnam War. On this show, it was mentioned that he could go "forward and backward in time"; he could basically view anything from Auschwitz ( hopefully correct spelling ) to the activities of the Soviets. It was intimated that not too many people can do remote viewing.

If the premise of this particular show is correct, then the idea of somehow being able to tap into the "universal memory" where all actions and thoughts have, and will take place is an incredible prospect, to say the least.

CML:   It's correct, all right. Check out the book Remote Viewers by Jim Schnabel (Dell, 1997). The US Government remote viewing project was undertaken in conjunction with the SRI (Stanford Research Institute). Although it was eventually terminated - or blacked out - it resulted in the accumulation of a towering pile of absolutely unequivocal evidence for psi effects. So, for that matter, have the experiments of the Rhine Institute, PEAR, and other academic centers for the exploration of advanced mental capabilities. At this point, you can't find a reputable statistician who will deny it. Scientifically speaking, the shoe has changed feet.

I had my first conscious, spontaneous OBE at the age of twelve or so. It scared me rather badly - a feeling of being electrically stimulated from head to toe, utter paralysis, forcible displacement, and finally the ability to move at will (with my body still lying on the bed). When I finally regained corporeal coincidence, I got up and checked out various details I'd observed...details not previously known to me. What I'd seen in the OBE state was perfectly confirmed.

At this point, the sleep and OBE states are almost indistinguishable for me. Time dislocation is very common, mainly from present to future. I'm familiar with probability theory, and there is absolutely no chance of "random coincidence"; what I see generally happens. Unfortunately, that's not always the same as being able to see just what I want, or just what is personally useful to me. Then again, sometimes it is.

Despite all the data, the scientific community still lacks a sound theoretical framework on which to hang such phenomena. However, partially in order to clarify things for myself, I've constructed one. It's mathematically unique, and I suspect that at some point, it's going to be recognized as a pretty big deal. But until then, you might as well get comfortable with the idea that the mind is not bounded by the skull. Mind and reality are one, and it remains only to explain the logic that binds them - and us - together.

CLF:   Hmmm....Is this something that one can learn to do? Or is the capacity for remote viewing thought to be a special talent which only a few can develop? ... always wanted a "Time Machine", but would settle for the ability to do remote viewing!)

JCC:   Fascinating matters under discussion here! I have written of a few odd personal occurrences, some induced, some quite unsought. Did I slip out of my physical shell for an instant, bewildered at the glace of architecture that clearly was not 1969 Charles St. in Baltimore? More likely a daydream, I think, and others could only have my anecdotal word... but yet it's quite interesting to hear similar anecdotes. I had been sufficiently curious to try a sort of hypnotic regression with a therapist some dozen years ago. Very strange feelings and dialogue, but nothing much testable beyond a certain psychological sense of validity.

Perhaps the most interesting research work was a compilation of composite data on two thousand case histories by a Dr. Helen Wambach. I don't recall the title, but it was one of the two or three texts I've read which truly provide food for thought on the possibility of reincarnation, and by extension, some sort of mental or essential transcendence of the vastness of time, space, dimensionalities as conventionally recognized.

Occam's Razor cut away all but romantic confabulation, yet I do enjoy entertaining some speculation on what might be ... and am glad that our colleagues here do not feel discomfort in sharing encounters with the liminal, the numinous. I'll have stopped living when I cease to wonder, even though I'm disinclined to return to a state of belief "because it's impossible" {smile} The precise nature of beliefs and daydreams is somewhat elusive too, upon close examination.

JW:   That's certainly amazing, Chris. I had read about individuals being able to have OBEs, but have never had any of these experiences myself, as far as I can recollect.

I'd say the closest I have come to having an OBE was when I was also a child. Occasionally, I would be falling in my dreams, then suddenly wake up. I had this same odd tingling sensation you speak of. I hadn't thought of this for years. I have also had, and still do have feelings of "deja-vu", that I have been at a certain place before, doing this same action countless times. Yet, having never experienced it before.

With me, all this brings to mind a "vision" I suppose one could call it, I had a couple years ago. It was late at night, and was a particular time in which I very much felt "compelled" to write. I began to write a poem, and as I wrote it seemed that I had an intuitive "understanding" about the interconnectiveness of all things. I saw a pattern. It was an amazing experience.

Chris, I suppose your realization struck a synonymous chord within my own sphere of understanding.

CW:   As far as I know, the only concious OBE I've had was a spontaneous one after I bought Ultimate Journey. For some reason I was extremely excited when that book came out. Having read the Michael series I can understand why.

You can control the trip to some degree. I have used them. I have a problem that when I lie back I tend to swallow my tongue which makes it somewhat difficult for me.

Monroe had about a 50% success rate with his Gateway program (which still exists). It is about a week and costs about $1000 (including food and lodging). You might want to try the "discover" tape series first.

WHK:   Is this where the expression comes from, about being ... "beside oneself"... ?

WRW:   OK Julia, I admire the way you write. I am enough of a pragmatist to appreciate Occam's razor. But, I got the impression that you do not embrace as strong a belief in out of body experiences as say Chris. (Pardon me Chris. You and Julia have been the most likely to address various topics. I don't mean to "pit" you one against the other.) How, in a nutshell, would you classify, or truly consider, such phenonmena such out-of-body experience.

JCC:   A fair statement, owing to experience over the years that belief commonly translates to a viewpoint centered around advocacy, deriving comfort from the embrace of an abstraction. After seeing my own patterns, I found strong belief to be too costly for my tastes. Can't really afford first-class tickets on the comet, anyway. {smile}

Rather than eagerness to purchase the most powerful theory of everything in the shop and carry it home, I find plenty of comfort in browsing through the museum corridors, admiring the great art and artifice ... and feeling relieved not to have to pay for the security system on all that!

It is sufficient that an idea is creative, imaginative, and opens doors to further understanding. Or, to feel reasonably confident that a principle, calculation, or process can be relied upon to produce results useful or pleasant. No need for all the criteria to be fulfilled and wrapped up in a single package of perfect closure here and now. I wanted just that when I was twenty, but now the notion seems empty, superfluous, a terribly boring heaven of the sort satirized in Letters from the Earth.

Humanity has covered an eventful journey, to great extent mirrored in the course of every individual life. Perhaps there is such comfort and fulfillment in honoring the progress of the human story, foibles and triumphs alike, that strong belief in this or that seem not so very compelling after all.

I know not whether my various personal experiences qualify as OBEs, time- travel, or whatever label one cares to give. Fantasy or communion with a higher reality, or some fraction of both? Difficult, because I always loved the notion of time-travel, just as Charmaine did. We can find gods and followers in equal numbers, consulting our Cantor, of course. The dialogue, the questioning, the exploration, and the wonderment are to me far more interesting. If neither end nor beginning is found to this tapestry of life, is anything lost or lessened?

Quite possibly belief was not required even before the revelations from "Michael". That was the aspect I most enjoyed in the series, despite the haziness on how the sevenfold schema maps into other systems modelling the human psyche. Incidentally, I enjoyed following the Ansir for One link provided on Joel's pages. It produces a report about thirty pages in length, which I'd rate accurate in the general picture but incorrect on several specific points. Then again, I said that about my natal chart (both the tropical and the sidereal one!) How can I possibly become a true believer when the clear trend is less Libran and more Virgoan with each passing year? Maybe I read the chart upside-down!? {said with typically Gallic shrug} For your interest and delight, I'll include Ansir for One with the personality test links on the webpage.

CLF:   Remotely related to remote viewing, perhaps ... :

Even if there's not the remotest chance that I've remote-viewed any real places in today's world, I do slip off to distant galaxies or future times in some of my dreams; fairly frequently, I have night dreams which could be science fiction movies. Then, I'm both irritated and saddened by the buzzing of my alarm clock; I wish for nothing more than to return to that magically vivid, tantalizingly novel, futuristic world.

The psychic connection: In Summer 1996, I did two things which I'd never done before; I actually attended a Mensa Annual Gathering and had my aura read (by machine, of course) at that gathering. I placed my hand on a mysterious metal contraption; then, after several minutes, a photo appeared displaying a colored aura around my head (no, not my hand!); a computer printout then provided a "personalized" interpretation of what the various colors and their positions meant.

Of course, people want the proper ambience with an aura reading. Crystal balls. Tasselled lampshades in a dimly lit chamber. Beaded curtains through which ghosts may waft in and out at will. A chilly draft and occasional chilling thump. A completely automated aura-meter beneath brilliant flourescent bulbs in a convention hall is unlikely to induce profoundly mystical feelings. Knowing this, Psychics Incorporated did supply the requisite gypsy - that is, a plump, matronly woman with an appropriately slow and empathetic contralto voice, dyed black hair beneath a golden scarf, eyes seemingly omniscient merely because of their size, and thick makeup which made her face seem tanned. The great Madame Penelope (alias "Mrs. Smith" in real life) solemnly read the computer printout, then intoned that it (of course!) corresponded exactly with what she had psychically divined.

When I was a kid (now we're looking at ancient history), I once had to "play palmist" at a neighborhood fair; my mother, having seen me reading a book on the subject, volunteered me for the job. As would any normal, adult-fearing kid, I took my assignment seriously; it was time to put my rudimentary abilities in acting and story-telling to the test. I sat in the mandatory palmist's tent, admitting only one adult at a time to the hushed solemnity of the oracle's quarters; the grownups, only coming for entertainment or to "be charitable" anyway, entered my dim-lit chamber with mock seriousness. As they struggled to hold down their chuckles, I would massage each palm, ramble some nonsense about the life line and sun line (yes, I recalled some trivia from my reading), and muttered that they would surely be healthy and happy for a long while to come. Well, even if this wasn't true, it was what they liked to hear, and what they might even believe if the child palmist - aka.actress - aka.confabulator intoned it with enough conviction.

Of course, the adults all found comic relief in my palmist's tent. No, they didn't believe my ramblings - but that was merely because no one had supplied me with a convincing magician's robe (complete with stars and sequins), because no scented smoke peridically billowed out from mysterious holes in the ground, and because no cobras writhed to tunes played by snake charmers just outside the entrance. At my debut, I was a "disadvantaged" palmist; had someone merely supplied those cobras, that day might have been the start of a brilliant career as a pseudo-psychic.

Proceed to Part Two

Return to Colloquy main page