Near-Death and UFO Encounters
as Shamanic Initiations by Dr. Kenneth Ring
is reprinted from ReVision, Vol. 11,
No. 3, Winter 1989.
is professor of psychology at the University
of Connecticut and past president of
Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS).
He is the author of
Life At Death:
A Scientific Investigation of the Near-Death
Omega: In Search of the Meaning of the
and over forty articles in the fields
of social psychology, transpersonal
psychology, and near-death studies.
Dr. Ring received his Ph.D. in social
psychology from the University of Minnesota.
He lives in Ashford, Connecticut.
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In recent years, there
has been an effort, particularly by American folkloric
Rojcewicz 1986), to bring some conceptual order
to a disparate array of paranormal and transcendental
experiences whose academic study has heretofore
tended to be associated with distinct and somewhat
Included in this set of
non-ordinary occurrences are such phenomena as
(traditionally the province of parapsychology),
(near-death studies, medicine),
(ufology). That there are significant similarities
among subsets of these experiences, both in terms
of phenomenology and aftereffects, has long been
recognized, but so far there has been no sustained
scholarly effort to build conceptual bridges between
these experiential domains or to foster their comparative
study, despite some expressions of interest in such
Ring and Agar 1986).
In the spirit of this kind of endeavor, the need
for which has been persuasively set forth by Rojcewicz
(1986), I would like to present here a framework
for a partial conceptual integration of two non-ordinary
experiences previously held to be quite separate
and unrelated. I am referring to near-death experiences
(NDEs) and alleged UFO encounters (UFOEs),
between which I believe there are some hitherto
This paper has second
purpose as well. After delineating certain commonalities
between these types of experiences, I intend to
explore their possible joint significance for the
evolution of human consciousness. This will involve
an attempt to embed these and other types of non-ordinary
experiences in a second kind of conceptual matrix
that will provide a still more encompassing perspective
in terms of which to view the implicit connections
among the variety of experiences we will be concerned
Before setting out on
the first of these conceptual journeys, I need to
enter a couple of caveats. First, in stressing certain
linkages between NDEs and UFOEs, I make no claim
that all varieties of these two phenomena are thus
entwined. UFOEs especially cover an extraordinary
range, and therefore no one model is likely to do
even nominal justice to them all. In this instance,
however, I will be dealing with a particular and
nowadays increasingly well-known type of UFOE, the
nature of which I will specify shortly.
Second, the kind of integrative
model I will offer here attempts to join these experiences
only in terms of their archetypal patterning and
functional significance. At the phenomenological
level, NDEs and UFOEs are of course quite dissimilar,
but it is in their deep structure, as it were, rather
than in their surface contentual manifestations
that important commonalities can be discerned.
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Prototypic NDEs and UFOEs
on modern NDEs has been carried on for more than
a decade; thus the prototypic pattern for this type
of non-ordinary experience will be quite familiar
to most readers of this journal. This pattern is
made up of such elements as (1) a psychological
separation from the physical
a feeling of overwhelming
peace and well-being;
(3) a sense of movement through
a dark but not frightening
described as a
(4) the perception of
a brilliant white or golden
light by which
one is (5) gradually encompassed and from which
one (6) feels
a sense of total love
and unconditional acceptance;
(7) an encounter with
a being of light or other
who (8) may afford the occasion for
a panoramic life review
following which (if it occurs) one (9) may decide
or be told to
return to one's body,
thereby (10) terminating the NDE. Such experiences
tend to cohere in a highly meaningful way for the
individual, are almost always said to be hyper-real
(i.e., not like a dream or hallucination), and usually
have a profound transformative effect on the survivor
In any event, this is the kind of NDE that will
be of focal relevance here.
Another type of experience
that, owing to the popularity of such books as
likewise coming to be increasingly well known to
a broad segment of the American public is the so-called
UFO abduction experience.
This is an encounter for which the prototypic pattern
can be, for our purposes at least, reduced to the
following four elements: (1) a sense of being taken
away, usually against one's will, by one or more
humanoid beings, and (2) brought into a strange,
alien environment where (3) one is subjected to
an invasive physical examination that in some instances
seems to have to do with one's reproductive organs,
following which (4) one is returned to the physical
world, though not necessarily to exactly the same
location where the abduction apparently originated.
These experiences often lack the coherence of NDEs,
are not infrequently temporarily repressed or forgotten
but when recalled are re-experienced as traumatic,
and often entail a period of time for which one
cannot account (e.g.,
Lorenzen and Lorenzen
Again, it is this kind of UFO encounter with which
we will be especially concerned in this paper.
Now, when one reads accounts
of these two types of prototypic experiences or,
better yet, has a chance to talk directly to persons
who report having undergone them, one cannot fail
to be impressed with the obvious differences between
them. The typical NDE, for example, is usually recounted
in such a way as to impress the reader or listener
with its ineffable beauty, transcendental influx
or knowledge, and spiritual profundity. In my own
work with NDErs, I confess to having often been
struck and indeed deeply affected by the radiant
glow and strong positive emotions that emanate from
NDErs while in the throes of describing their experiences
to me. With UFO abductees, on the other hand, both
the content and tone are radically different. Here,
for instance, one senses one is reading about or
listening to people who may feel especially in the
immediate aftermath of their experience that they
have been the victims of a form of psychological
rape. Their reactions afterward are indicative in
any case of some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder
(Spiegel, Hunt, and Dondershine 1988;
and their difficulties in dealing with their experience
are only compounded by the knowledge of others'
likely reactions to learning about the incredible
(in the literal sense) circumstances and bizarre
events associated with the abduction.
Nevertheless, when one
begins to probe beneath the divergent phenomenological
surfaces of these two types of experiences, one
sees that for all their dissimilarities there does
appear to be a common structural basis for them
both a shared archetypal patterning that binds them.
And if I were to try to encapsulate this common
element in a single phrase, the one I'd choose is
the shamanic journey. To see this more clearly now,
we need to examine these prototypic experiences
from an explicit shamanic perspective. When we do
so, it will become apparent that most of the defining
features of NDEs and UFOEs can be coordinated to
a model of shamanic initiation.
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NDEs and UFOEs as Shamanic Initiations
To begin, we need a template of sorts for shamanic
initiations in order to appreciate the extent to
which such a template might indeed overlap with
the underlying form of NDEs and UFOEs. Needless
to say, given the enormous wealth of anthropological
literature on shamanic initiation, any one model
will be a patent oversimplification.
Nevertheless, even a crude
and over-generalized outline of some of the main
features of this kind of initiation will prove workable
for our purposes. In any case, the following account
is based chiefly on
Typically, an individual
who may be somewhat unusual because of his (or her)
sensitivities or exceptional giftedness or because
he has survived a serious illness, accident, or
other ordeal is selected for shamanic training.
He is then separated from his community and put
into the hands of his shamanic trainer. The apprentice
is required to undergo various ordeals, both physical
and psychological, as his training progresses. Often,
as is well known, these rites involve powerful dismemberment
(and reconstitutive) motifs as the candidate undergoes
a death-and-rebirth ordeal a necessary component
for all true initiations, of course, as well as
the experiential foundations for a new sense of
identity as a shaman. Sacred mysteries are disclosed
to the individual as he learns to enter into otherworldly
realms and acquires his particular shamanic skills,
his power animals, sacred songs, secret language,
and so forth. After his initiation is complete,
he returns to his community as a healer, a
a master of ecstasy, a mystic and visionary as a
man (or woman), in short, who now knows how to live
in two worlds: the world of the soul as well as
that of the body. And though indispensable to the
welfare of his community, he often remains somewhat
apart from it precisely because of his special knowledge
and his unusual and sometimes disturbing presence.
Now, taking this sketch
of shamanic initiation as our template, let us see
how well it maps onto the underlying form of the
prototypical experiences of interest to us. We begin
with the NDE. Here, we find ourselves with an individual
who has by whatever means been brought to the threshold
of apparent imminent biological death, a condition
that, as we have seen, is often preludic to a shamanic
career. This state of affairs means that at least
psychologically and in some cases physically (as
when he is removed to a hospital), the individual
is separated from his community of peers. Inwardly,
he, too, embarks on a journey of initiation, and
he is not long into it before he meets the equivalent
of his shamanic trainer. A luminous figure a true
psychopomp will appear to guide the individual in
his journey. This figure represents what I call
the archetype of the cosmic shaman. For in this
role he is not merely a guide in the passive sense
of escort but is, rather, a man (or woman) of knowledge.
He is a being who appears to know all about the
life of the individual undergoing this experience
and all about the realm into which the individual
has entered. And while in this realm, the NDEr will
receive instantaneously and telepathically the answers
to all of his questions from this being, this cosmic
shaman. Knowledge will simply flood into his soul
as the mysteries of life and death are finally and
The NDE literature is,
of course, replete with such testimonies, and I
myself have published quite a few of them (Ring
Here, however, I will simply use one illustrative
case to indicate the extraordinary clarity and emotional
depth of these encounters.Jayne
Smith was in
the process of giving birth to her second child
when she had her NDE. Hers was a very deep experience
of ecstatic gratitude and cosmic knowledge during
which she almost immediately lost all body awareness
and says she existed, while cradled in the light,
as pure consciousness. When she later came back
to her sense of individualized identity as Jayne,
she found herself at the top of a hill where she
encountered a group of men. She then said (mentally)
to one of them.
I know what
has happened to me. I know that I've
died. And [she says] one man in the
group did all the talking to me. He
was taller than the rest and he had
an absolutely marvelous face. It was
very noble, very kind. He also had about
him a great deal of authority In order
to talk, we didn't have to move our
mouths. I only know that I only had
to have the impulse of what I wanted
to say and he immediately would get
that and answer it. I could hear the
sound of his voice in my inner ear.
I said, Everything
[here] is so beautiful, everything is
so perfect. What about my sins?
And he said,
There are not sins, not the way you
think of them on Earth. The only thing
that has any meaning here is what you
think. And then he asked me a question:
What is in your heart?
And in some
incredible way I was enabled to look
deeply inside myself, really into the
core of me, into my essence, and I saw
what was there was love and nothing
else. My core was perfect love, loving
perfection. I had complete love and
acceptance for everything.
And I said
to him, Of course! And I had the feeling
that I was connecting with knowledge
that I had known before. And I wondered
how on Earth I had ever forgotten anything
And then I
said, Can you tell me what everything
is all about?
And he said,
Yes. And he told me and it took maybe
three sentences at the most. It was
so simple. I understood that immediately.
I had total comprehension of what he
was saying to me.
And I remember
again saying to him, Of course!
And then I
said to him, Since I'm not going to
be able to stay may I take this all
back with me?
And he said,
You may take the answer to the first
question back that was the one about
sin but the answer to the second one
you are not going to be able to remember.
At that point,
Jayne heard a sudden bang, like an electronic
click in her ear, and her experience
ended. Reflecting on it years afterward,
I have never
been able to remember those specific
two or three sentences that I was told
and I have tried and tried and I never
could. But I think that I do know what
he was telling me, even though I can't
recall the actual [words]. I know that
it has to do with love and I believe
it has to do with what I was enabled
to see when he said, What is in your
heart? and I looked inside myself and
saw that I was perfect love.
Now, you know,
that doesn't apply just to me that applies
to all human beings. That is what we
are. That is our core this perfect love.
And I believe that what it's all about
is [that] as we learn to bring that
into our consciousness and have it remain
there all the time our connection with
God our consciousness of who we really
are, I think that's what the journey
In any event, following
this kind of revelatory encounter, the individual
is sent back or in some cases chooses to return
to his physical body. And how does his otherworldly
initiation change him? Anyone familiar with the
now extensive NDE literature on this subject (e.g.,
will know that many NDErs return with apparently
enhanced psychic sensitivities. Furthermore, quite
a few (including Jayne) claim to have acquired healing
gifts as a result of their NDE (as the NDE-based
depicts), and most of them report an increased concern
with the welfare of others and indeed with the welfare
of all life on this planet.
Finally, I should note
that though NDErs as a rule are more concerned with
others, others may shy away from them. Many NDErs
soon learn to their sorrow that a person who lives
in two worlds however one is initiated into a second
world tends to make one-worlders a trifle, if not
All in all, then, there
seems to be a pretty good fit here between the
shamanic initiation model
and the structure of the NDE.
These parallels, of course, are evident not just
from the perspective of NDE research. Students of
shamanism such as
have also drawn explicit connections between these
two domains, and Kalweit's book even gives pride
of place to the NDE as a modern empirical exemplification
of the timeless truths of the shamanic journey.
Nevertheless, a note of
caution about these parallels is in order here.
Specifically, by claiming that NDErs undergo a kind
of shamanic initiation, I do not mean to imply that
they are therefore fully accomplished shamans.
On the contrary, they
have simply received their first initiation; they
have not completed the course, which for a shaman-to-be
in a traditional society often takes years of effort.
Therefore, while NDErs may return with some shamanic
skills and something of a shamanic orientation,
it would be best to view them as shamans-in-training,
still learning their craft.
Turning now to UFO encounters,
we need to discover how well our model fits the
case of the typical abductee.
Let's review, then, in
somewhat greater detail than before the usual progression
of events in these experiences in an attempt to
test the utility of this model here.
UFO abductions, the individual is taken (and I don't
mean this in a physical sense, though abductees
themselves sometimes do) when he is usually in some
kind of an altered state of consciousness asleep,
in a state of helpless paralysis, or otherwise somehow
entranced. Here, however, the figure of the cosmic
shaman this time in the form of a space-age E.T.,
as it were, but playing the selfsame role albeit
in new garb may make his appearance early on, or
the abductee may be brought into his presence by
a set of clone-like assistants. The next stage of
the journey is the examination in which the individual,
already usually highly uneasy if not frightened
to the core, is forced to endure a variety of intrusive
procedures apparently the UFO equivalent of the
initiatory ordeal or dismemberment ceremony. It's
noteworthy, by the way, how often the abductee will
say that this examination took place in a round
or curved chamber. We know of course that a round
hut or circular enclosure of some kind is a staple
in traditional initiations, as
herself a UFO abductee, has pointed out.
can be taken to symbolize a womb or a place of new
beginnings. In any event, following this ordeal,
certain specific I suppose one might say classified
information may be imparted telepathically as part
of another act in the initiatory drama. Eventually,
however, the abductee is somehow returned to his
ordinary space/time world, though, as I have said,
he may not have any immediate conscious recall of
his traumatic adventure.
Yet he, too, like the
NDEr, may come back shaken from his experience but
with the seeds of transformation already sown in
his psyche. While there are, to my knowledge, no
careful long-term studies of the aftereffects of
these UFO encounters,
preliminary work by
Sprinkle (1981, 1983),
and others (e.g., Decker 1986) suggests that despite
the grueling nature of these experiences, the after-effects,
though variable, often show striking resemblances
to the characteristics of NDEs.
And once more in common
with NDErs, the UFO abductee may learn that his
experience, though it has conferred upon him certain
new skills, insights, and understandings, has also
served to isolate him somewhat from his community.
Like the NDEr, he, too, has had his passport stamped
with an extramundane imprint and returns from his
strange sojourn with divided and complicated allegiances
to that world. As a result, he may find that he
is inwardly conflicted and frequently estranged
from his family and fellows, something of an alien
Before looking more closely
at what precisely one is initiated into during these
NDEs and UFOEs, I want to add a couple of comments
about the characteristics of the cosmic shaman himself.
First, it is clear from the literature of abduction
cases that the appearance and behavior of the cosmic
shaman in UFOEs tend to be disturbing and indeed
frightening to most of those who encounter him.
This is in marked contrast, of course, to the loving
and benign qualities of the cosmic shaman in NDEs.
Once more, it seems, we have an antipodal relationship
between these two categories of experience at the
phenomenological level but one that again obscures
an important functional similarity. The point here
is this: It doesn't matter what the cosmic shaman
looks like or how he behaves. His function is simply
to educate the soul. Whether he does this by acting
out the role of the trickster, the masked demon,
or the sage is irrelevant. His ways are protean,
but his objective is the same through a thousand
disguises.Second, as I've just implied, appearances
may be deceiving, especially in the exotic mindscape
of UFOEs. What I am alluding to here I will shortly
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Shamanic Initiations: Doorway to the Mundus Imaginalis
Given that NDEs and
UFOEs may be forms of shamanic initiation, we must
now take this inquiry one step further and ask:
What is it that those who have these experiences
are being initiated into when they pass through
these otherworldly domains?
In my view, whenever an
individual undergoes a shamanic journey whether
through nearly dying, UFO abduction, or by other
means he is vaulted into the world of the imagination
or, to use
Henri Corbin's (1976)
equivalent phrase, a
Let me be clear at the outset what I understand
by this expression, whether it be the English or
James Hillman (1975)
has insisted, and NDErs and shamans everywhere would
quickly concur, that in the world of imagination,
persons and places are fully real; they are as real
in that domain as our physical world is to our senses.
So in using this expression, I am not implying that
such experiences are imaginary, but rather that
they are imaginal (again to use Corbin's helpful
term). Imagination in this sense is, as Coleridge
argued, a creative power, and the world that it
reveals is, as Blake knew, a supersensible reality
that can be directly apprehended.
Shamans, who see with
the eyes of their soul, have also penetrated into
this world and have given us peerless descriptions
of its fabulous and infinitely varied regions and
denizens. Indeed, the idea that shamanic experiences
thrust individuals into this realm has lately started
to serve as a unifying formulation for a number
of writers. For instance, in
Shirley Nicholson's excellent
anthology on shamanism
there are quite a few articles that articulate this
notion admirably (see, for example, the pieces by
Likewise, in Carol Zaleski's brilliant book,
Otherworld Journey (1987),
she follows a similar interpretative line for NDEs.
another student of shamanism, has also argued for
the primacy of the imagination in understanding
UFO phenomena. These collective efforts, centered
on the imaginal world and the power of the imagination
to shape human experience, may eventually spawn
a conceptual net of sufficient breadth to capture
and order meaningfully the variety of non-ordinary
experiences we considered at the beginning of this
At any rate, this approach
appears to be a most promising direction for conceptual
work in this area, and deserves even more attention.
All this notwithstanding,
what is important for us at this point in our inquiry
is not just the recent popularity of this kind of
formulation but rather the fact that through it
we are led all the way back to
the father of psychology and the seeming priority
of the soul. From this perspective, of course, NDEs,
UFOEs, and shamanic journeys in general are all
explorations in the domain of soul, which, as Heraclitus
seems to have been the first to assert, is infinite.
Roberts Avens (1980)
has pointed out, soul is not only inseparable from
imagination, soul is imagination (p. 103).
Therefore, if shamanic
experiences are to educate the soul, as I have claimed,
they must necessarily do this by propelling us into
the infinitude of the human imagination. The mundus
imaginalis is our true home, which we are once more
beginning to see and to experience directly. Again,
as Avens has said: Only soul (the imaginal realm)
is not reducible to anything else and so constitutes
our true, ontological reality (p. 102).
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Some Evolutionary Speculations
In my book
Heading Toward Omega
I argued that NDEs and other transcendental experiences
may be serving as an evolutionary catalyst for humanity's
collective psychospiritual development. I still
adhere to that view, but here I'd like to extend
this thesis in a new direction. That direction has
already been suggested in
The Final Choice (1985),
where, in speaking of out-of-body experiences, he
indicates that they may represent the matrix for
the next environment in the psychosocial evolution
of man (p. 102, his emphasis). I embrace that position,
too, but would like to elaborate on it briefly.
We now know that millions
of persons have already had out-of-body experiences,
NDEs, and other similar experiences (see, e.g.,
Hay 1982), and there are various reasons to suppose
that their numbers have increased dramatically in
recent years (e.g.,
Likewise, the number of UFOEs not just sightings
seems to be growing exponentially, too. Budd Hopkins
(1987b), for example, estimates that there may be
hundreds of thousands of such cases hidden among
us. And shamanic journeys of one sort or another
also seem to be increasingly common and commonly
sought after in our contemporary world.
Altogether, we seem to
be undergoing a period of mushrooming growth in
the occurrence of what
has called the otherworld journey for which the
traditional shaman has long been the prototype.
If this is actually so,
might it be that what we are witnessing is the beginning
stages in the shamanizing of modern humanity? And
what that would mean is precisely this: that humanity
would be finding its way back to its true home in
the realm of the imagination, where it would be
liberated to live in mythic time and would no longer
be strictly bound to the prison of historical time.
In short, I am suggesting that in this period of
apparently accelerated psychospiritual evolution
these two worlds may be drawing nearer to each other
so that we, too, like the shaman, will be able easily
to cross over and live in both worlds.
These are, to be sure,
fairly extravagant extrapolations; indeed, I am
acutely aware of how wildly inflated they may appear.
At the same time, I take some measure of comfort
from the fact that I am very far from being the
first or only researcher to advance such evolutionary
possibilities. Indeed, for investigators who have
concerned themselves in recent years with NDEs,
UFOEs, and similar phenomena, there have already
been several who have put forward very similar ideas.
for example, whose implicit sympathy with shamanic
interpretations of UFOEs is obvious in his book
speculates toward its end that the veil between
matter and mind is now growing thin (p. 289) and
that the universe of the visitors and our own are
spinning each other together (p. 295) in an act
of cosmic communion.
who has also recently articulated an initiation
model for UFO encounters based on some of the ideas
Arnold Von Gennep
has likewise found himself wondering whether it's
possible that UFO's, the near-death experience,
apparitions of the Virgin
Mary, and other
shamanic visionary encounters are as much of a prod
to our next level of consciousness as rapidly blooming
sexual urges are a prod to a teenager's move from
childhood to adolescence. (p. 14)
ideas mirror almost exactly those expressed in
The Final Choice,
which considers in depth the collective evolutionary
significance of precisely the phenomena that Thompson
is concerned with. Similarly,
who is certainly one of our most original and provocative
visionary thinkers with a long-standing interest
in the relationship between psychedelic shamanism
and the UFO, has been eloquent in his insistence
that we are coming to the end of historical time
when, as he puts it, we will live in hyperspace,
having interiorized the body and exteriorized the
soul, and dwell in the realm of full imaginative
Finally, English NDE researcher
has also concluded from her studies that the ever-increasing
frequency of NDEs is a direct reflection of an evolutionary
trend that is propelling humanity toward higher
a hypothesis that is virtually identical to the
one I offered in
Heading Toward Omega,
thus completing the circle (or should I say, the
course, having company along the road doesn't necessarily
mean one is walking in the right direction. None
of us can see that far ahead in any case, but to
me it is at least noteworthy that a number of thinkers
and I have listed only a small sample of them here
who have had occasion to ponder the implications
of NDEs and UFOEs have felt that they point to some
profound transformative possibilities for modern
humanity and planetary culture.
While we are still in
this speculative mode, however, let us just consider
for a moment what we would experience as part of
our soul's education if this evolutionary perspective
does have any merit. In this context, I'd like to
refer to a couple of experiences that were shared
with me by friends experiences that may contain
some hints as to what our common realization might
Earlier I mentioned in
connection with the role of the cosmic shaman in
UFOEs that appearances may be deceiving. Here's
the story that prompted that remark. A friend of
mine, who has had an NDE, recently sent me a cassette
tape in which she recounted a UFOE that had just
happened to her. The circumstances were typical:
she had awakened at 3:30 one morning and distinctly
perceived an alien form by her bed. It had the appearance
that is commonly described in the literature on
abduction: small body, large head in relation to
the torso, huge black eyes, and so forth. My friend
then became aware that she was receiving a telepathic
communication from this being, but what she heard
served to reassure her.
She was told that the
ugly, bug-like eyes (that so many abductees have
reported) are not eyes at all they are shields.
The shields, she was further informed, are necessary
to protect human beings from what they would otherwise
be exposed to. This would overwhelm them. But just
what is this dangerous force to which they would
The being then allowed
some of it leak out. My friend felt an influx of
universal knowledge and infinite love pour into
her. She was then told that as we grow and as we
raise in our level of understanding of what we truly
are, more and more will be shown to us and we will
receive all this knowledge and be able to be one
Following this message,
she felt another wave of that unconditional love
NDErs so often speak of and fell peacefully asleep.
Such a story even if it
is only a story makes us wonder what we would actually
experience if we could look into the infinitude
of those eyes. A possible answer comes from another
NDEr friend of mine. This is a woman who, in 1975,
while in her twenties, had three cardiac arrests
within a period of four hours as a result of anaphylactic
shock. During this time, she knew with certitude
that she was dying. Her experiences during this
life-threatening episode were extremely profound
and revelatory, but here I have to confine myself
just to one phase of her NDE that occurred toward
At this point, she felt
that she was rocketing through layers upon layers
of realities, seemingly to the heart of the universe
itself, and she was terrified. She thought she had
gone too far and would be lost forever. Then: Oh
my God. I was picked up as if by an ENORMOUS pair
of hands, and as I looked up I found myself looking
into a gigantic EYE, out of which flowed a tear
of all consuming, profound ineffable love and compassion,
and I KNEW without a doubt, that I was looking into
the heart of my self, who is all selves, whatever
it is that God is. And I was brought into the EYE,
and was home.
Let us hope that, lifted
by the wings of a planet-wide initiation into the
realm of transcendental experience, we will all
be carried home to live again in the land of the
soul the Imagination.
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Bowing to the widespread use of the phrase UFO encounter,
I will defer to it here, but I do want to state
at the outset that I myself find this expression
both misleading and unhelpful. In my judgment, what
is encountered in these experiences has nothing
to do with unidentified flying objects as we commonly
understand this designation. Perhaps one benefit
of attempting to bring some conceptual coherence
to the set of phenomena of which UFO encounters
are one important category will be to rid ourselves
of this unfortunate and somewhat embarrassing term,
This is the most frequently used designation for
this experience both in the popular literature on
UFOEs and in scholarly treatments of the phenomenon
It is, however, not favored by some of those who
have had this kind of traumatic encounter.
for example, prefers the expression visitor experience
and has been emphatic in this rejection of any label
for it that implies a sense of victimization (e.g.,
I have recently inaugurated a research project designed
to provide data on this matter that will also afford
a direct comparison between NDErs and UFOErs on
a variety of different measures.
It must be stressed that the world [of imagination]
is perfectly real. Its reality is more irrefutable
and more coherent than that of the empirical world,
where reality is perceived by the senses (p. 17,
Fragment 42 in
version reads: You could not discover the limits
of the soul, even if you traveled every road to
do so; such is the depth of its meaning (quoted
Avens 1980, 21).
Since NDEs represent a specific form of OBE,
argument can easily be extended to NDEs and to other
similar transcendental experiences.
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1986. Long-Term Effects of Close Encounters.
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New York: Harper and Row.
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Return to Top
talked with people of stature - of military
and government credentials and position
- and heard their stories, and their
desire to tell their stories openly
to the public. And that got my attention
very, very rapidly ... The first hand
experiences of these credible witnesses
that, now in advanced years are anxious
to tell their story, we can't deny that,
and the evidence points to the fact
that Roswell was a real incident, and
that indeed an alien craft did crash,
and that material was recovered from
that crash site."
- Dr. Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut,
from a taped interview
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