Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Speaking of heavenly, the Biography Channel aired one of its low-budget paranormal marathons the other night--on this occasion the show in question was, "I Survived! Beyond and Back;" an hour long collection of first person accounts of near death experiences.
I watched three full episodes before conking out myself. Most of the stories were filled with fairly standard stuff: the white light, the tunnel, the transcendent presence(s), the loving long lost relatives come to guide the newly departed into the afterlife just before, BAM! Did we say heaven? Nope, gotta go back! Sorry!
One detail of one specific account stood out for me in a big way though:
A young woman who had been severely injured in an auto accident found herself watching a complicated operation to repair her broken back from a vantage point high up in a corner of the OR. As she watched, she realized she was surrounded by angels, whom she described as being, "about nine feet tall and surrounded by light. They spoke with their eyes, which beamed this same light outward as a form of communication. The light itself contained the message."
I was struck by the similarities between this description of telepathic angelic communication via light and eyes and the standard abductee description of aliens with huge black eyes that communicate via intelligent, living darkness. In the angel NDE story, the light beams outward from the eyes.
In most alien abduction accounts, the person is transfixed by the blackness of the eyes, drawn in, and the communication in these cases is also nonverbal but quite clear. In both examples, there is a sense of shining, of a light/darkness that is itself intelligent/loving or (in the case of alien abduction) intelligent/terrifying.
The two experiences are mirror images of one another in many respects.
The apparent opposition may well be superficial. It is worth pointing out that terror in the presence of angels is as commonly reported (perhaps more commonly reported) than love and reassurance, so some significant overlap is at play here. Angels and aliens have a lot in common.
BTW, I'm currently reading the new book by Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck, "Wonders in the Sky." It's pretty cool. As soon as I turn the last page I'll post a review, I promise
Tomorrow I have to get a root canal before work.
I think I'd rather have a near death experience.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I've missed this blog.
And--I've been having predictably weird thoughts: 1) Because I always have weird thoughts, and 2) because I've been taking on lots of hours I and am tired now in places I didn't know existed. Tired in my toenails. Tired in my earlobes and eyelashes.
December 25th can't come fast enough for Pam this year.
I've been thinking a lot about the ambivalence built into religious experience and all anomalous experience, including UFO sightings and encounters--and about how much the two categories of experience overlap. Much has been written about this, but usually the slant of such writing is that UFO experiences and NDEs and mystical experiences of all sorts are just a variant on religious experience; a modern expression of a single phenomenon that is as old as the human race.
A question posed much less often is this one:
What if religious experience is a variant of UFO and anomalous experience,but is interpreted as religion because that's how human beings are wired--to think religiously.
Probably the reason you don't hear that question as often is because it offends people more easily than its opposite. It's harder to sell too. Has a much smaller target market, as it were.
I got to pondering this less popular question while hearing "Silent Night" on the store intercom for the gazillionth time and remembering the movie, "Starman" with Jeff Bridges. In that movie, an alien falls to earth, takes human form (by slipping into the body of a dead guy), is taken in by a nice young woman who falls for his charming peaceable alien style and just after he leaves earth--miracle of miracles--finds herself pregnant.
Do I need to point out the parallels?
I do not.
The odd rumination I had on the heels of that was about NDEs.
You know how people who have NDEs seem to always come out of them with psychic and/or healing abilities and a much more religious (or at least spiritual) inclination? Well, I had an NDE in my 30s.
In the years immediately following my NDE, I went on one of those grand spiritual quests (fodder for another post) so common among experiencers, and I also studied all kinds of esoteric traditions in depth, obsessively--very common as well. I did seem to develop a degree of psychic ability post-bright light moment; one I still retain. On a darker note, I fried hair dryers, coffee pots, and other small electronic appliances for years thereafter. I no longer buy such items.
My NDE happened over 20 years ago.
Today, I'm much more ambivalent about its meaning, if it even has one. I wonder, why me? What for? And on what basis do we categorize such experiences as divine?
Couldn't such experiences just as easily be generated by something much more prosaic--some intelligence with a better understanding of human cognition and anatomy than we ourselves possess? And the fact that we can't understand their motives, what of it?
"You're more intelligent than a cockroach, right? Have you ever tried explaining yourself to one?"
(Poor John Keel. Was he a prophet? Or a paranoid schizophrenic? Will we ever know? At least he dared to explore the territory.)
Perhaps we simply can't understand. Perhaps we lack the cognitive apparatus to understand, to know what this is. But does that mean de facto that the source of our anomalous perceptions must be divine? Maybe, but maybe not.
NDEs and other out of body experiences tend to be so overwhelmingly positive and eternal, so 'other' in a totally blissful way, that we automatically ascribe positive intent and value to them.
Heroin is like that too.
Somewhere between genius and madness a great mystery beckons. Is it friend or foe, God or alien? Or is it none of the above--experience for the sake of experience itself, perhaps. Something truly and wholly (holy?) Other.
Merry Christmas. See you on the other side.